By Blackson Mkupatira – Mana.
Traditional Authority (TA) Ndanga of Mulanje District has raised concern that his area was being sidelined in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic as there has been no awareness interventions by District Council or its partners.
In an interview with Malawi News Agency (Mana) on Friday when Adventist Development Relief Agency (ADRA) conducted awareness in the area.
The Chief said his people remain at risk because they have not received any massages on how they could protect themselves from the virus even after it was first registered in the district.
“For a long time, we heard about the pandemic, we have been complaining to authorities at the council that there has been no community sensitization but up to now nothing has happened. When we ask them why they say it’s because we are far. As such, my subjects do not know how they could prevent spread or protect themselves from the virus.
“Even non-governmental organization have not reached us, if we know anything about the virus is because of what we have been telling each other and we are not health experts so I am afraid we might be misinforming one another,” he lamented.
Ndanga pointed out that this has put his subjects in grave danger as the area has a lot of returnees from Mozambique where they used to work.
“Because of the pandemic we are receiving people who return from Mozambique using uncharted routes. There has been no follow up on them or other precautionary measures taken because we don’t know the truth about the nature of the virus or how it spreads. I am afraid by the time we discover that the disease is in this area, a lot of people might have already lost their lives,” he noted.
The TA commended ADRA for being the first organization to sensitize his people saying as traditional leaders, they were having difficulties to reach out to all their subjects with proper massages.
Mulanje District Health Office (DHO) Assistant Health Promotion Officer, Ufulu Zuze raised the issue during a quarterly Health Promotion Technical Working Group meeting.
He said no interventions have been done in TA Ndanga by the DHO or partners because of the issue of allowances and due to lack of community health structures in the area.
“Since we began Covid-19 awareness interventions in the district nothing has been done in TA Ndanga. This is because the area is hard to reach, as such people demand DSAs and most of the partners have not been willing to provide that because they say it’s unjustifiable, because we are in the same district.
“Again, there are no community health action groups (CHAGs) in the area, which makes it even hard for us to create awareness because they have been instrumental in other TAs when it comes to raising awareness and community level,” Zuze said.
Co-Chairperson for the Committee Project Coordinator for Global Aids Interfaith Alliance (GAIA), Lucy Munthali said something should be done as soon as possible to reach the marginalized communities with key massages on the virus as their lives were at risk.
She advised the committee to meet with responsible officers at the Council and DHO to map the way forward saying as partners they are ready to support with resources to conduct awareness in the area but they have been constrained because of the issue of allowances as government workers are demanding DSAs.
Initially Mulanje DHO had budgeted about K 2.8 million for social mobilization and advocacy in its K 11 million Coronavirus preparedness and response master plan.
The district received K 31 million from government to help with Covid-19 related interventions.
TA Ndanga is located about 80 kilometres from the Boma.