Access to health care was challenging for under-reached communities in Malawi. Now Malawians can dial 54747 to reach Patience Tchongwe, senior hotline supervisor and recent award winner, and her team of hotline staff who are always ready to take the call.
Tchongwe, a trained nurse in the area of nutrition and midwifery, offers health and nutrition information and provides referrals to callers of the service. “I truly enjoy answering calls, helping people, giving them the health information they need and to help individuals and their families to make informed decisions so they know where and when to seek medical care,” said Tchongwe.
Chipatala cha pa Foni (CCPF), which means health center by phone in Chichewa, was developed by the Malawi Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) in partnership with VillageReach to improve health outcomes by increasing access to free, timely and quality health information.
When Tchongwe joined VillageReach in 2015, CCPF was only operating in two districts, and it focused solely on maternal and child health (MNCH) information. Since then, she became a critical liaison between MHoP and VillageReach during a time of expansion into other health topics. Now Tchongwe has played a central role in supporting the scale-up of CCPF to reach all Malawians. The last step for CCPF was full integration into the health system as part of the national strategy to provide universal health coverage for everyone.
Last week, Tchongwe and Dr. Alinafe Kasiya, VillageReach country director, represented VillageReach at the launch of the National Envisioning Process by the State President of Malawi, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika. CCPF received a prestigious award recognizing the program as a Transformative Initiative for Malawi.
VillageReach played a significant role in driving multisectoral collaboration and partnership with the government, donors, private sector and NGO stakeholders to address the health information gap. But it was the hard work and dedication of Patience Tchongwe and her team of hotline staff that truly made it possible.