Health care worker stands by a hand washing station.

Working in a health facility was a boyhood dream for 29-year-old, Cornelius Damuza. After completing elementary and secondary school, he went on to do professional studies at Malawi College of Health Sciences at Blantyre Campus in Malawi.

Cornelius started working as a Medical Assistant three years ago (in 2018), and he now works at Chamba Health Centre in Zomba district. The Health Centre serves a population of 33,193 people, of which about 18,256 are women and girls. Cornelius laughs when he’s asked what motivated him to become a Medical Assistant: “Hahaha, mmm, it’s a job that I am passionate about since my childhood days. All along, I just wanted to help people who are sick. That gives me satisfaction at the end of the day.”

According to Cornelius, the Chamba Health Centre started performing COVID-19 tests just two months ago and about six cases have so far been recorded at the health facility. Visits from community members seeking health services have started going down as misinformation spreads that the health facility injects coronavirus to unsuspecting patients. “There is low turn-up these days due to COVID-19 tests that we conduct here. The community think we are responsible for the transmission of the disease. This has led to some people dying of curable diseases in their homes,” says Cornelius. He says that the health authorities and partners have geared up to quell such myths and misconceptions by ensuring community members receive factual information about the causes of COVID-19 and how to prevent its spread.

Through the COVID-19 response project that has receive financial support from the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada, the Chamba Health Centre has received a handwashing facility which Conelius says is very important. He recalls how tough it was to ensure that their clients wash their hands with soap regularly before the health centre had a handwashing facility. “This handwashing facility has been helpful because we did not have ones with big buckets that are in good condition as the ones Amref Health Africa donated to us. Amref Health Africa supported us with liquid soap as well. Now, our facility is geared to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.”