In Malawi, a number of cultural traditions are wielded as a sort of litmus test. If something doesn’t match up, it’s condemned as bad, unnatural, or even un-Malawian. Various philosophies and theories are used to back up these traditional beliefs, including statistics. Even if these statistics may have a dubious origin, whenever they are invoked, they are prefaced with the phrase, “It is a well-known fact…” Our Umunthu programme is challenging the ways that “well-known facts” are used to justify discrimination.
Over the last year and half, the Umunthu programme has been working with healthcare workers to address the discrimination of minority groups that then impacts their ability to access health care. The team recently worked with St Joseph College of Nursing in Chiradzulu, and made a positive impact on attitudes there.
The topic of discrimination against minority groups can be a heated topic here in Malawi, and addressing that discrimination can be a long process. As part of our ongoing Umunthu: Health Worker project, our staff is returning to the communities to follow-up on the lasting effects of the three-day workshops, and this is what one healthcare worker had to say.
A huge investment into the health sector by the government, private sector and the development partners will translate into nothing if a particular section of the society is left out .Indeed, discrimination against some individuals in health services provision is a sure recipe for disaster and counterproductive in the efforts to create a health society .