COVID-19 RESPONSE AND RECOVERY SMALL GRANTS MECHANISM: Supporting Coordinated Civil Society Advocacy for ensuring service continuity for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescent’s Health
Management Sciences for Health (MSH) was the grant administrator for the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Small Grants Mechanism to support coordinated civil society and youth advocacy for ensuring service continuity for WCAH. MSH provided this grant to Women Coalition Against Cancer – (WOCACA) in Malawi to support the following project goal, objectives and activities.
The project goal was aimed at supporting national objective to build capacity for community awareness and mobilization in order to create demand for cervical cancer prevention and control services.
Project objectives (SMART - specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound):
Specifically, the project aimed to achieve 3 main objectives: -
- To conduct one advocacy and communications campaign, including through media engagement, to help communities to safely access essential health services related to cervical cancer such as vaccinations and screening during the COVID-19 campaign pandemic by 30th June, 2022
- To support 2000 women and adolescent girls by mobilizing communities to ensure women, children and adolescents are continuing to demand and use essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic by 30th June, 2022.
- To monitor service provision in 5 health facilities to ensure availability of and access to high-quality RMNCAH+N information, supplies and services in light of the pandemic by 30th June, 2022.
Specific activities achieved these objectives include:
The key strategy enhanced awareness and behaviour change interventions of the community, policy makers, and health workers for cervical cancer prevention and control. Important target groups in the fight against cervical cancer included community, political and religious leaders; schools; the youth; traditional healers and media. Focus was aimed on husbands of women found with cancer and healthcare workers in rural areas who could promote or lower stigma and discrimination for women. This project used a multi-factorial approach; combining education, awareness raising and reducing stigma, to promote equality in health rights. The project carried out several activities during the Inception and planning phase as listed below;
Project inception activities;
- Conducted project De-briefing Meetings with Ministry of Health Central office
- Conducted project De-briefing Meeting with Karonga District Health Management Committee
- Carried out baseline with decision makers and key populations including a knowledge, attitude and practices (KAP) baseline survey on cervical cancer in this time of COVID-19
- Reviewed service delivery data collection tools
- Trained partners in project indicators and M&E system
- Developed referral pathways for clients with precancerous lesions.
The project carried out these key activities by specific objectives:
Specific Objective 1: To conduct one advocacy and communications campaign, including through media engagement, to help communities to safely access essential health services related to cervical cancer such as vaccinations and screening during the COVID-19 campaign pandemic. The activities specific to objective 1 are:
- Conducted stakeholder engagement meetings; Ministry of Health, District Executive Committees; District Health Committee; Area Development Committees and Village Development Committee.
- Built media capacity to enhance community awareness and mobilization through a targeted training session for media practitioners
- Conducted mapping exercise of outreach clinics in Lilongwe to target in the campaign
- Developed, disseminated and distributed Cervical cancer information, education and communication (IEC) materials for the target audience
- Carried out audience analysis for the IEC materials
- Identified Information, Education and communication expert
- Identified of key messages.
Specific Objective 2: To support women and adolescent girls by mobilizing communities to ensure women, children and adolescents are continuing to demand and use essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The activities specific to objective 2 are:
- Utilized existing community structures and personnel e.g., community health workers, community leaders, village health committees in promoting awareness of cervical cancer and health rights during the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Conducted cervical cancer campaigns that will include educational talks for HPV vaccine, cervical cancer screening and cervical cancer screening activities
- Built the capacity of the influential leaders to understand cervical cancer and its related stigma and myths
- Provided outreach Cervical cancer screening and treatment services
- Promoted integration of cervical cancer prevention into youth sexual and reproductive health rights programmes at the district level
Specific Objective 3: To monitor service provision in health facilities to ensure availability of and access to high-quality RMNCAH+N information, supplies and services in light of the pandemic. The activities specific to objective 3 are: -
- Conducted monthly project mentorship and supervisory visits.
- Conducted quarterly review meetings with District health officers and other project stake holders
- Conducted end-line project assessment
- Documented lessons learnt on community-based IEC on the uptake of Cervical cancer services.
The project achieved 3 key results;
(1) Community awareness of cervical cancer was increased to increase demand for screening;
(2) Increased stakeholder participation in cervical cancer awareness and prevention program and
(3) 30 Women and adolescent girls were trained as champions against cervical cancer-related stigma and COVID-19 misinformation hampering access to essential services.
The project was implememted from September 2021 to June, 2022