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Communications Trust project promotes community health rights

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Development Communications Trust (DCT) has said it is important to empower communities around health facilities and enable them to demand their health rights for the country to achieve equal access to healthcare services.

DCT Executive Director Prince Mtelera said this in Lilongwe on Wednesday during a winding-up meeting of the health rights and governance project which the trust has been implementing in 15 health facilities in the past five years.

Mtelera said there are a lot of challenges that some marginalised groups such as women, youths, people with disabilities and people living with HIV face when accessing health services and that needs the country’s attention.

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He said the project which DCT was implementing in Balaka, Salima and Nkhotakota has helped people in those communities take the duty bearers to task.

“Women, youths, people with disabilities and people living with HIV are now aware of their rights to health, are demanding acceptable and accessible health services, health governance structures at local and district levels are functioning in a professional, transparent and accountable manner and health service providers and governance structures are responsive to the demands of such groups,” Mtelera said.

He said DCT believes that increasing spaces of interaction between citizens and power holders, through participatory communication, can increase the participation and voices of marginalised groups to influence responsiveness and accountability among duty bearers, leading to improved service delivery.

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“Inclusive capacity building resulted in the creation of a critical mass of the vulnerable groups. Convening and influencing for change through community dialogues created spaces for all groups of people to participate in defining their health problems,” he said.

The project, which Tilitonse Fund was financially supporting, has seen community members being mobilised into advocacy structures called Radio Listening Clubs (RLCs).

The clubs conduct civic education meetings to sensitise their respective communities to their right to health services and lead them in the process of demanding for quality health service delivery.

These RLCs facilitate a process of health issue identification and definition from various demographic groups of women, youths, people with disabilities and people living with HIV.

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