Community Tuberculosis volunteers, who work hand in hand with health surveillance assistants in their respective areas in collecting sputum and also sensitizing the communities on how TB is transmitted and how it can be prevented, are contributing greatly to the fight against Tuberculosis in Malawi.
The volunteers undergo training on how they can identify presumptive, collect the required sputum and transport it to the health centre whilst protecting themselves from contracting TB.
Speaking to Malawi24 Sinala Kanyinji a volunteer from Chokopeke Sputum Collection point, GVH Kamoza, TA Mkumbira, Nkhatabay district, said as volunteers they go in communities to collect sputum from people in their homes.
This helps patients who cannot walk a long distance and have no money for transport to have their sputum examined at the hospital or to collect results.
“Our role as volunteers is to prevent the people from queuing at the hospital and walk a very long distance to get assisted, and they use that time for something productive in their lives.
“As volunteers we engage the community, we usually meet twice in a month. When we meet these people, they tell us their problems so we take their queries to our seniors, and those seniors give us some advice so that we help these people. We also collect sputum from our communities and refer for diagnosis and we sensitize the people in our communities on how TB can be contracted, transmitted and also prevented so we really play a big role in TB Fight,” said Kanyinji.
Another volunteer, Mercy Mshali from Kaziwiziwi in Rumphi district, said they work hand in hand with health officials and they have a good working relationship with hospital personnel.
“When we deliver sputum, it only takes two to three days to get results. This helps us to communicate about the results to the presumptive in time. This builds trust between us and our fellow community members. If they are diagnosed with TB, we encourage them to adhere to drugs until they are cured,” said Mshali.
In his remarks, Omar Mwamadi District TB Officer for Rumphi district said one of the factors that has led to high treatment success rate in Rumphi district is the introduction of community volunteers who are contributing a lot to the increased detection of TB cases.
Speaking on the same, Nkhatabay district TB Officer Mavuto Khomba, said volunteers work in various sputum collection points that are established in community and they are well trained on how to detect TB and also collect sputum.
“These volunteers work hand in hand with health surveillance assistants who are also working at the community level to make sure that we detect the TB Cases as early as possible. The volunteers also raise awareness, sensitisation to do with TB disease on how it is caused, how it is spread and how it can be prevented. So overall with the help of community volunteers the fight against TB in the district is going very well,” said Khomba.