In line with the Local government Act, Blantyre City Council is the local government institution mandated to provide municipal services to the citizens in the City of Blantyre. In line with the provisions in the act, one of the services that the Council provides is health. However, due to limited capacity in providing health related services; the council delegated health service provision (management of health facilities) to the District Health Office (DHO). This therefore means that it is the DHO that oversees all health facilities in Blantyre except the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital. However, much as the health service delivery is being implemented by the DHO, planning of such services is still managed by the Council through the Health and Environment Committee as well as the Directorate of Health and Social Services. This development brought in a disjoint in terms of coordination and governance of Health service delivery at City Level since the DHO was being excluded in Council decisions despite the office overseeing all health facilities and services in the City. This disconnect has been orchestrating poor service delivery to the clients of the city as planners and implementers were operating on parallel structures. i.e. Blantyre City Council would construct a health center in the city or even make other decisions without consulting the District Health Office. This has resulted into health structures with no staff members hence depriving city residents to access improved health services.
As part of project activities, Concerned Youth Organization (CYO) convened an engagement meeting with duty bearers at Chigodi Women’s Training Centre. The meeting brought together various project stakeholders and partners including the Blantyre DHO, Blantyre City Council, District Youth Officer, District Sports Officer and the Ward Councilor. During the engagement meeting, community members presented to the duty bearers a number of issues from lack of basic health services and discussions on improving service delivery. Among the major highlights, the District Health Officer (DHO) bemoaned the disjoint in terms of co-ordination and management of Health service delivery at City Level as his office was not part of Council meetings despite the office overseeing all health facilities and services in the City as well. The issue was deliberated and all stakeholders saw the need for the Blantyre DHO to be part of the Council Committee on Health and Environment as a key stakeholder who can technically advise the Council on some decisions. The Ward Councilor took it up in writing to the Blantyre City Council and the DHO himself booked an appointment with the CEO and presented the issue.
BCC responded by including the Blantyre DHO in the Council Committee on Health and Environment. It is on record that the DHO attended his first meeting as a member of the Council on 16th June 2016. This decision means that there will be improved co-ordination among the two institutions which will result in improved health service delivery by city residents not only those in Kachere Township. The engagement meeting also is the genesis of the current Memorandum of Understanding agreement being made between Blantyre City Council, Blantyre DHO and Veterinary Department to examine meat before slaughtering and selling as part of health standards.
Concerned Youth Organization is implementing a project with financial support from Tilitonse Fund. The project is titled Promoting Citizen participation and implementation of the Service Charter. The project focuses on Service Charter standards towards improving health service delivery; the charter stipulates citizen rights, citizen responsibilities and feedback mechanism by residents.