Lilongwe, Malawi (12 September, 2023) – VillageReach today announced the findings of a post-transition evaluation of its Chipatala cha pa Foni (CCPF) program in Malawi. The evaluation, conducted by an external consultant towards the end of 2021, found that CCPF quality remained strong and well-placed to provide essential health services to Malawians one year after transition. This is due to strong government commitment and stewardship. However, several challenges needed to be addressed to ensure its long-term sustainability.
The evaluation found that community demand for CCPF was high. CCPF received a 24% increase in demand from the year prior to transition. The hotline is available in four languages: Chichewa, Tumbuka, Yao, and English, making it accessible to a wide range of people, with new topics added and existing topics updated. As such, a large majority of hotline users reported being satisfied with the service.
However, data utilization by Malawi Ministry of Health (MoH) departments was low and hotline workers have not, in all instances, received refresher training. VillageReach had retained some responsibility for data analysis and equipment servicing, with budgeting still a challenge. The evaluation recommended that the MoH revive relationships with partners to drive long-term sustainability, develop a capacity-building strategy for onboarding new hires and recruiting more hotline workers, and remain vigilant in its coordination of resources.
The MoH is committed to addressing the challenges identified in the evaluation and ensuring the long-term sustainability of CCPF, and has taken a number of important steps to address the challenges identified in the evaluation over the last year and a half, including:
- Maintaining strong multi-sectoral collaboration: The MoH has continued collaborating with partners through the Health Service Delivery Transition Working Group. This collaboration has been essential to the success of CCPF’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It has embedded CCPF in the Emergency Health Unit to ensure coordination and efficient use of resources.
- Hiring additional hotline workers: The MoH has recognized that increased promotion of the hotline must be matched by increased staff capacity to handle increased hotline activity. The MoH worked with partners to hire additional hotline workers and to address the demand for COVID-19 information, opening a temporary satellite call center in Blantyre.
- Implementing a quality assurance (QA) protocol: The MoH has also continued to implement a quality assurance (QA) protocol, which was developed pre-transition, to ensure that the hotline provides accurate and up-to-date information to callers. The average QA score for 2023 was 91-96%.
- Connecting CCPF to the Government-wide network internet: The MoH has enhanced available bandwidth and connectivity by connecting CCPF to the Government-wide network internet.
- Data ownership: The MoH has commenced the transition of data and dashboard ownership from VillageReach to the MoH Digital Health Division (within the MoH’s Administration Directorate), supported by private sector partners. The government will then take full ownership for looking at and acting on the data.
Speaking upon the publication of the evaluation, Carla Blauvelt, VillageReach’s Director of Global Programs, said, “With the MoH at the helm and acting on feedback and addressing challenges as they arise, CCPF will continue to be a valuable resource for the people of Malawi. The MoH has demonstrated its commitment to CCPF by taking firm steps to address the challenges identified in the evaluation over the last year. We remain committed to helping advise the MoH in its efforts to ensure the long-term sustainability of CCPF.”
The CCPF Transition to Government: Evaluation Report is available to read now.
About Chipatala cha pa Foni (CCPF): CCPF was launched in 2011 by Malawi Ministry of Health and has successfully reached many people with health information and advice. CCPF is an implementation of the VillageReach “Health Center by Phone” solution. It is a free, 24/7 health hotline that provides information and advice on a wide range of health topics, including HIV/AIDS, malaria, and maternal and child health. The hotline is available in four languages: Chichewa, Tumbuka, Yao, and English.