In 2022 MaiKhanda Trust was awarded another community project called Innovations in Health Rights and Development (iHEARD). The project is funded by Global Canada affairs (GAC). The project is implemented by a consortium of local and international organizations including CODE, Farm Radio International (FRI)r, Women and Children First (WCF), MSI Reproductive Choices, FAWEMA, Farm Radio Trust (FRT), Girl Effect, Viamo, and Banja La Mtsogolo. The project aim is to contribute to addressing and dismantling barriers to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) in Malawi.
MaiKhanda Trust alongside a well-known international partner, Women Children’s First (WCF)-UK-based organisation would be taking the evidence-based methodology known as Participatory Learning Action (PLA) to Ntchisi district for a period of four years. These two gurus have a good partnership history of implementing PLA methodology which has influenced a better and meaningful change in lives of mothers and new-borns in several communities of Malawi such as Salima, Nkhotakota and Ntchisi. iHEARD project will use new approach which is moving from the traditional PLA that is well known to radio PLA which we are all eager to witness as it gets unfold.
iHEARD project will contribute to dismantling barriers to improve sexual and reproductive health and rights(SRHR) for adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) in Malawi, who are particularly vulnerable to SRHR violations. Improving SRHR of AGYW (10-24 years) will contribute directly to poverty reduction by improving the ability of AGYW to make informed SRHR decisions about their lives and bodies. It will also improve health and wellbeing of Malawian families and communities nationwide.
The iHEARD project is bringing together a consortium of both international and local partners in the health service provision, communication and education sectors to implement their innovations that will complement each other and achieve the best in the three districts of Malawi namely; Ntchisi, Dowa and Lilongwe.
The iHEARD project has an organized governance structure for the three pillars: health, education and communication that will be the project’s major focus as summarized below. Under each pillar there are three leading international partners with their local partners.
The iHEARD project inception phase (PIP) was done between October 2021 to August 2022. Several activities were carried out, all consortium partners’ were involved through the sharing of inputs and great ideas. Mostly it has been deskwork, virtual/blended meetings, formative research studies implementation, development of SBCC strategy, national and district level entry meetings, project launch and SRHR 101 and gender training. The PIP has achieved a lot, building good working relationships among partners in a consortium, understanding each partners design of work and initiated the coordination which has to be strengthened so that efforts are complementary. The PIP report was approved by GAC and a good go ahead was given to initiate the implementation phase from September 2022. The consultation of all partner’s aligned government ministries was done and so far Ministry of Education, Health, Gender and Ministry of Youth & Sports are the ministries that iHEARD project will be in frequent collaboration.
On 14th June 2022, the national entry meeting was held at Crossroad hotel. The objective of the meeting was to introduce the iHEARD project to Malawi government line ministries that the project is aligned to. The meeting was attended by representation from the following directorates’ directors or designates: Reproductive Health and Health Education Services in the Ministry of Health, Basic Education, Secondary Education, Teacher and Development, Quality Assurance, School Health, Nutrition and HIV/AIDS in the Ministry of Education; Gender Affairs in the Ministry of Gender, AGYW Coordinator representing Ministry of Youth. An overview of the project was given to meeting attendees, followed by a discussion on gaps identified in the project’s overview that can add value to the impact of the intervention.
The iHEARD project was warmly welcomed by all stakeholders present and powerful critiques and insightful comments were also received to ensure that necessary modifications were properly done suiting the Malawian youth/Adolescent context and also ensuring continuous adherence of SRHRS policies. Some of the important comments that were provided and taken into consideration on that day were: sharing of terms of references by AGYW secretariat that would strengthen the project’s engagement with existing technical committees at national level, sustainability and accountability related issues and among many others.
From 22nd to 30th June 2022, the iHEARD project conducted district level entry meetings; district health management team (DHMT)/technical working groups and district executive committees (DEC). The DHMT/TWGs meeting was held in order to introduce the project into the district through the aligned sector and sought the approval of getting ahead with the DEC meeting at council level after addressing the comments provided. The iHEARD project was later approved by the districts during DEC meetings that were held in all the three targeting districts.
In an effort to improve sexual and reproductive health rights related outcomes amongst AGYW and Adolescent Boys and Young Men (ABYM) iHEARD project was launched on 11th August 2022 at Malingunde School ground, TA Masumbankhunda in Lilongwe. The launch of the programme, which is scheduled to run from 2022 – 2025 in three districts was attended by Directors in the ministries of health, education, youth, gender and local chiefs, adolescents and young people.
Speeches were delivered by the guest of honour, Director of Youths, Mrs Judith Msusa. On this special day she started by reiterating the importance of acknowledging and appreciating the existence of the youth in our country and beyond with their great influence towards development of our nation, region, district, society and all communities. “We all believe the youth is the leader of a next generation hence we all need to stand together, hold hands as we keep nurturing this youth vigilantly by uplifting all aspect areas of his/her life” she said.
Youth champion, Miss Mphangera stated in her speech that various political, economic, and sociocultural factors restrict the delivery of information and services; health workers often act as a barrier to care by failing to provide young people with supportive, non-judgemental, youth-appropriate services.
MaiKhanda Trust is a Malawian non-governmental and nonprofit organization established and registered under Trustees Incorporation Act in 2006. MaiKhanda works with the Ministry of Health and all partners and stakeholders in Maternal and Neonatal Health service delivery.
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