A Project in BMF (Pambana na Corona Program) Kills Two Birds With One Stone

The Pambana na Corona program that is currently being implemented by BMF funded by UNICEF and Irish AID distributed working tools (phone devices) among CHWs deployed in May 2020 to timely capture the community indicators and reporting. During this exercise, one of the CHWs from Temeke bravely asked what other information apart from COVID-19 should be filled in the phone reporting tool.

“Please madam may I ask about the kind of information on other essential health services that we are required to collect? Is this  the same information that we used to report before the beginning of this COVID project?”asked Ms. Innocencia Mangosongo, CHW, Azimio, Mjimpya-Temeke.

Why would Ms. Innocencia ask such a question? Ms. Emma Kinyamagoha who is the BMF Senior Program Officer for Community Health explains that since their deployment, the CHWs have been using hard copy forms to report matters related to COVID 19 at different levels. So, the introduction of mobile phones has added more community indicators to report other essential health services.

CHWs during working tools (phones) distribution and orientation. Ms. Innocencia was captured as she raised her hand to ask about other community-based services.
Ms. Emma Kinyamagoha (standing), BMF’s Senior Program Officer for Community Health responding to the question asked by Innocencia CHW from Temeke Municipal.

Various names such as Village Health Workers (VHW), Community Own Resource Persons (CORPS), Community Health Agents (CHA), or Community Health Volunteers (CHV) have been identified for the Community Health Workers overtime. Also, program-based Community Health Workers were defined based on particular programs such as Community Case Workers (CCW), Home-Based HIV/AIDS Treatment Providers (HBCPs) as well as Community-Based Family Planning Services Distributors (CBDs) for Social Welfare, HIV/AIDs and Family Planning Services.

Currently, the Government of Tanzania under the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly, and Children (MoHCDGEC), launched the CHWs Operational Guideline in April 2020. The Guideline identifies all the Community Volunteers, male or female, providing Community Based Health and Social Welfare Services at the “Kitongoji” as Community Health Workers (CHWs) or “Wahudumu wa Afya-Jamii” (WAJA) in Kiswahili.  

“Most of the deployed CHWs in the fight of COVID 19 were from the preceding community health and social welfare services at community level under different partners and responsible authorities.” Explains Ms. Agnes Mgaya-Regional Community Based Health Coordinator (RCBHCo), Dar es Salaam region.

Ms. Agnes Mgaya RCBHCo of DSM region speaking to the deployed CHWs during the working tools (phone) distribution at Kigamboni Municipal.

The question asked by Innocencia about other services to be provided by CHWs has led to more discussion with other deployed CHWs who have in the course of their jobs provided more detailed information on what takes place as they implement the Pambana na Corona program

In the course of implementation of CHWs activities, it was noted that they provide other health education and services including HIV Testing and Counseling, Tuberculosis Screening, registration of Integrated Community Health Fund (iCHF), Gender-Based Violence (GBV), Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC), Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), Village Community Bank (VICOBA), Family Planning, Methadone, Nutrition, and Hygiene matters.

Community Health Workers are now very proud of being in the front line in serving the community members in health matters at the grass-root level. As they visit their local communities and “Mitaas” they are referred to as community nurses and doctors as they are capable of being ambassadors in all other services apart from COVID-19.  

“We are now capable of providing education and awareness to our respective communities on other services apart from COVID 19. BMF and other similar organizations can now confidently use us as ambassadors to all essential health services for our communities that can also be documented as best practices to scale up to other regions” Mr. Ramlati Hemed Omary, CHW, Mbagala, Kizinga-Temeke commented.

The Benjamin Mkapa Foundation through Pambana na Corona Program, in collaboration with MoHCDGEC under UNICEF and IrishAid support, recruited 620 CHWs in May 2020 to fight against COVID 19. CHWs recruited are responsible for contact tracing at the community level, surveillance, and referral of alerts cases of COVID 19 but apart from the project, most recruited CHWs were already into other essential health services.

Among other essential health services that CHWs are required to offer include Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH), HIV, TB and Leprosy, Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD), Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD), Eye Care, Injuries, Nutrition, Oral Health, Environmental Health and Hygiene, Child Protection, Vulnerable-Poor Families and Health of Elderly People.

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New Health Recruits Deployed to 72 Councils within 13 regions of Tanzania.

Newly recruited health workers during the orientation session including signing of contracts at Muhimbili Central Pathology Laboratory (CPL) conference, Dar es Salaam region on 8th July 2020.

Benjamin Mkapa Foundation (BMF) through financial support from UK Aid-DFID, Irish Aid, and UNFPA, employs a total of 575 health professionals to work in 72 councils in 13 regions of Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro, Tanga, Mara, Pwani, Dodoma, Arusha, Mtwara, Kigoma, Mwanza, Simiyu, Mbeya and Songwe.

Following their recruitment, BMF has embarked on  the deployment process including orientation and signing of contracts for all newly recruited health workers based in Dar es Salaam as one among the beneficiary regions. The orientation session was attended by the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children (MoHCDGEC) Prof. Mabula Mchembe along with other government officials from the MoHCDGEC and PO-RALG  at Central Pathology Laboratory (CPL) conference Muhimbili, Dar es Salaam on 8th July 2020.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children giving his opening remarks during the orientation session.

During his opening remarks,  Prof. Mabula Mchembe thanked BMF for being in the front line on resource mobilization from different stakeholders that ultimately contribute to increasing of the health workforce in health facilities countrywide. He also commended BMF for collaborating with the Government Authorities in ensuring that the employment processes are carried out as per the Government employment standards and procedures.

Prof. Mabula advised the newly recruited health workers to work as per the professional ethics, procedures and strive to be an example in their assigned areas.

I would like to thank all the professionals who have accepted the offer and go to work in their designated areas. Together we can serve the community” said Prof. Mabula.

On the other hand, The Chief Executive Officer of Benjamin Mkapa Foundation, Dr. Ellen Mkondya Senkoro explained that BMF has allocated 575 health workers in prioritized regions by the Government to strengthen health services in fighting against communicable and non-communicable diseases including COVID 19.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Mand the PO-RALG for the great contributions they have made to accomplish this important task. I would like to acknowledge that, we have had enough cooperation in ensuring that all employment procedures are followed” she said.

The Chief Executive Officer – Dr. Ellen Mkondya Senkoro giving her opening remarks during the orientation session

The number of health workers funded through development partners includes DFID –  367 health workers, UNFPA – 170 health workers, and Irish Aid 38 health workers.

By June 2020, the Benjamin Mkapa Foundation has managed to recruit a total of 3,004 skilled health workers and among them, a total of 1,064 health workers mainstreamed in the public service to continue providing quality health services. Since its establishment in 2006, BMF has continued to partner with the Government in efforts to combat various challenges affecting the delivery of quality health services including shortage of health workers which is now estimated to be at 52% in the country. 

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