Lilongwe — The expansion of the Chipatala Cha Pa Foni (CCPF) into a national service will enable the rural population to access immediate and quality information on health issues, health and population minister Atupele Muluzi has said.
Muluzi said this on Thursday in Lilongwe during the launch of a call centre at Bwaila Hospital as part of an activity to extend CCPF to become a national service.
CCPF is a health hotline and message service which people can call toll free using Airtel numbers to access health information on all topics including antenatal care, nutrition, Tuberculosis, HIV and AIDS.
Muluzi said CCPF is a key part of his ministry's strategy of improving the health of Malawians by reaching out to 74 percent of rural people with quality health services.
"In many communities, long distances to health centres often prevent people from seeking health care," Muluzi said.
He added that the coming of CCPF will try to address that challenge while at the same time lessening the burden on health workers who struggle to adequately serve large numbers of people at once.
However, Muluzi pointed out that the coming of this service is not a replacement of traditional health services,
"This is just complementary to the health system as it will widen the reach of normal health services," he said.
Muluzi further said that the extension of CCPF reflects governments' commitment in improving the health living of Malawians through easy access to health information.
Village Reach, an international organization working in the health sector, spearheaded CCPF and the service was launched in Balaka in 2011.
The service was introduced against the background of limitations in access to health information by the majority of rural people.
Since its launch, the service has spread over to nine districts and is accessible to 5 million people, according to Village Reach country director Carla Blauvelt.
"We expect the impact to be nationwide; many people should make informed choices when accessing health care services," Blauvelt said.
Use of CCPF involves calling the number 54747 using an Airtel line and clients can get up to 15 minutes of conversation with a health worker.
Customer experience director for Airtel Sibusiso Nyasulu said their mobile network company is proud to be associated with improving the health living of Malawians.
"We are happy that this service is rolling out across the country. With our network upgrade, clients should expect minimal challenges in accessing CCPF," Nyasulu said.
Village Reach is implementing the service with other partners like the governments of Germany and United States of America.