By Lawrence Chilomo:
Director in the Public Health Institute of Malawi, Benson Chilima, has reiterated the need for research on some diseases the country deals with if proper measures are to be taken to control them.
Chilima made the remarks last weekend when he presided over the graduation of 15 trainees in Field Epidemiology Programs in Chikwawa.
Out of the 15, 12 trainees came from Chikwawa District Health Office (DHO) while three others came from the District Animal Health and Livestock Development.
According to Chilima, the aim of the three months training was to empower trainees to do research on some diseases in the communities which would, at some later stage, assist duty bearers, especially government, in decision making.
“This is a three-month training where we select between 12 to 15 participants in every district who chose the area of focus to do their research on.
“So, we had trainees focusing on a number of areas like dog bites and vaccination, TB, Malaria, cancer, diabetes and HIV/AIDS among many others,” said Chilima.
He expressed hope that through the capacity building of the trainees, the Public Health Institute would be able to conduct further researches on different issues, which will enable officials decide better on those issues.
One of the graduates, Dr Sheenah Kaunda Khuwi, Medical Officer at Chikwawa District Health Office (DHO), said through the training, she would be able to analyse data at her health facility collected from different fields so that proper decisions are made.
“This rarely happened before. For example, my area of focus was TB-thus to find out why TB cases were few as National TB Programme had set a target in 2020 which, as Chikwawa, we didn’t manage to reach. So, I wanted to find out reasons behind this.
“So, my research has been impactful as there is progress and proper decisions are being made. Some of the reasons I unearthed in my research included COVID-19 restrictive measures where some people didn’t want to visit a facility for testing. At the same time, our teams that go around communities to collect specimen haven’t been that active,” Khuwi explained.
Technical Advisor for International Training and Education Centre for Health (ITECH) Setiala Kanyanda, said it was their wish to see the trainees ably analyse the data that is collected in their health facility for proper decision.
“Since we started this programme in 2016, we have reached out to 10 districts with 131 graduates in total.
“We expect that these trainees will be able at some point to sit down to analyse research results and do the necessary recommendations. We expect them to do the best out of the trainings,” stated Kanyanda.
The trainings were conducted with support from United States for Disease Control and Prevention through ITECH in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MoH).