Thursday, October 14, 2010

Volunteering for a cause

....Mulanje CTC gaining ground
Gladys relaxing at her home Picture
by Joseph Scott, 2009
Gladys Muwawa wakes up at 5 every
morning. She has to make her weekly
rounds to check on her clients. Gladys quickly
completes her household chores and sets on
the road.
She hurries through the maize fields and by
the time she reaches her first client the sun
is already up. Fortunately, Gladys finds her
client on her first meal.
She observes the feeding and then sets off
to another client. Gladys is a community
therapeutic care (CTC) volunteer with
Chambe Health Centre in Mulanje. The centre
is one of the twelve in the district that is
receiving technical support from the CTC
Advisory Service (CAS), a technical arm in the
Ministry of Health, funded by the USAID.
“I became a volunteer because I wanted to
help children suffering from malnutrition in
my village,” she says. “I use my weekly check
up visits to observe if parents are not abusing
the chiponde -a local name for ready to use
therapeutic food (RUTF)-meant for their sick
Before volunteers in the Chambe zone
stepped up their supervisory visits, many care
givers were abusing the chiponde. Cases were
recorded in Chambe where parents would give
the RUTF to other children, as food.
”We came to know of such issues when we
noted that most children were not responding
to treatment after the prescribed two weeks
in the programme,” says Gladys.
However, through strong community
awareness initiatives by the volunteers, cases
of mismanagement have decreased.
“We have enlisted the help of our chiefs in
enforcing good feeding habits. Fortunately,
the chiefs are sympathetic to our work, and
have joined in by organising monthly meetings
where we meet all the community members.
“We take this opportunity to reinforce our
message on who should eat chiponde and who
shouldn’t. And to ascertain that the RUTF is
not being misused, we do some minor
investigations in the villages. For example,
we ask other children if they have tasted
chiponde. Their responses guide us in our
approach to our clients,” she says.
Gladys like other volunteers in the zone has become
a health model in her village. Her commitment to the
CTC programme has endeared her to many mothers in
her zone.
Chetueje Machira is one of the mothers who has
recently become a permanent visitor at Gladys home.
Her son, Simeji, was ill for some time due to
After assessing him, Gladys referred Simeji to Chambe
health centre where he was admitted in the CTC out
patient programme. Simeji was given a two week supply
of Chiponde, and now has fully recovered.
“I always come here (Gladys’s home) to make sure
that I am not missing something on his [Simeji] feeding
schedule,” says Chetueje.

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