Addressing healthy settings in Malawi
As a famous Malawian adage goes, “Mphini yobwereza imawala” (Something done twice will have more impact than done once), which was true for the health promoting schools programme as the teams received more detailed training on HPS components. Health promoting schools coordinators Sothin Ziba and Rossanie Daudi, arranged further training for school stakeholders in impact schools with the help of previously trained school members. This followed a monitoring activity late last year 2014, which showed the need to prioritise elements and share responsibilities to boost involvement and activity of the programme plus overall skills development for local stakeholders. The school communities worked on actions for the specific HPS elements namely: School social environment; school physical environment; school based health policy; essential health services; community links and individual skills and action competences. The training engaged the participants in goal development, creative skills and role sharing for the next project phase starting March. Team building, motivational media and literary tools were employed to demonstrate best practice and to set reference points for the HPS schools. More than 150 stakeholders took part in the training including all teachers, parent teacher association, school management committee, primary education advisor representative and learner representatives. The participants were allocated to the different elements based on profession and personal interest, and are now set for action. It was heartening for SCHI team to see that meetings and plans for the development of school grounds were already underway as the training came to an end. “we were not sure on what to do and some of us felt excluded on the project but now we have a full picture, things will now start working”- Said one senior teacher from the schools Meanwhile, one of the teams overlooking community links has set to take its first action of relationship building by signing the Health Promoting Schools Charter, a document which aims to bring all of the stakeholders in the school together in commitment, to achieve a sustainable programme of healthy school development. “We will start by signing the charter, we must be the first to agree and others will come in to support the programmes, its best that we launch charter together as the three schools, Mfera CDSS, Mfera Primary and Nkudzi, that way, we will it will be easy because we have same chiefs, same community and same issues.”- said PTA chairman for Mfera CDSS The launch of the charter will see the communities, project partners, local stakeholders recognising the schools and appreciating their efforts to change health determinants in the three schools. There are a number of issues that will need more than the schools to address, there are culture issues, sexual reproductive health and climate change support, health services provision that will require well-coordinated support and professionals. We are positive that all necessary support will be given to the schools as they take on this task to turn their schools into the first Health Promoting Schools in Malawi.