11 December 2012

Zambia: Lufwanyama Health Partners Urged to Work Together

LUFWANYAMA District medical officer (DMO) John Kamalamba has implored partners in the district to work together in disseminating key messages that can help change behaviours among people to improve their health status.

Dr Kamalamba said there was need for concerted efforts from all stakeholders in the district in disseminating key health information in all quarters of the communities so that people could turn away from the old traditional ways of living and instead adopt safer methods of living.

He said some people in some communities were still adhering to old traditional practices and norms, thus they were putting themselves in danger of contracting communicable diseases.

Dr Kamalamba said this in a speech read for him by clinical care officer (CCO) Nerbert Mwanza, at a two-day Behavioural Change Communication (BCC) workshop held at Work-rites in Kalulushi last week.

He said unless all stakeholders operating in the district came together to disseminate health key messages to the people in their quarters some communicable diseases in certain areas will not be avoided.

"I wish to appeal to you all here present that we should work together in disseminating key health messages to the people in all our communities so that they can change their traditional ways of going about their lifestyles and start doing things differently that way avoid contracting communicable diseases and start living better lives," he said.

He said people needed to be reached with messages such as those that they should always wash their hands with soap everytime they have been to the toilet so that diseases like cholera and other water-borne diseases could be avoided.

The medical officer said in some communities, people were still stuck to the old behaviours of doing things, therefore, they needed to be reached with new key health messages for them to change their old habits.

The workshop was organised by Zambia Information and Systems Support Programmes ZISSP and was meant to form the Community Behavioural Change Communication committee in the district and further to educate committee members on how to effectively disseminate health messages to the people in their respective communities.

The workshop had members drawn from all Government departments, civil society and the media as stakeholders who were expected to work together in ensuring that large segments of the people were reached out on health matters using various forms of communication tools.

And the facilitator of the workshop, Paul Dondolo urged participants to be more proactive in information dissemination by using Information Education Communication IEC materials so that the target audience could get the well elaborate messages.

Mr Dondolo said each district had to take a giant step of disseminating health messages to the target groups so that they could appreciate them and utilise them to avoid contracting certain diseases.

He said if there was need to create awareness programmes in an area where most people were unable to read materials in the English language the Community Behavioural Change Communication committee should translate the same material into local languages or convert the messages into pictorial form for them to be appreciated as long as they were based on the concept of behaviour change.

He said researches conducted in some parts of the country had revealed that some diseases had been trailing behind while others had large segmentation in certain communities which they had in turn impacted negatively because the neglected diseases became hazardous to many other citizens of the country as well.

He attributed this to lack of appreciation of some health messages for some materials provided to certain communities because they were written in a language that they were not able to understand.

"This committee has got a very big task of ensuring that all key health messages are appreciated by a certain sectors of the community and this should be done by translating the material from English to vernacular," he said.

Mr Dondolo further regretted that currently, many non-governmental organisations (NGOs) had concentrated so much on sensitising people on HIV/AIDS neglecting other equally important areas such as malaria and nutrition a situation that had negatively impacted most communities.

Meanwhile, Mr Emmanuel Kapalala from Network for Persons Living with HIV/AIDS Lufwanyama Chapter who was a participant reminded participants of their role of ensuring that they disseminate appropriate messages on the type of food to eat in order for the medication to work properly.

He said some people who were on anti-retroviral treatment had not been adhering to the types of foods that they were being advised to take as a result their medication had slowly started failing to work properly in their bodies.

Mr Kapalala said those on HAART supposed to be eating natural food stuffs because they had nutrients to help their bodies to adapt well with the drugs they were taking and that could lead to them living longer despite being HIV positive.

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