Karonga District Health Office (DHO) has hailed the National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) for

helping to improve health service delivery in the district through the development of a Health Service Charter.

Health Services Administrator for Karonga DHO, Clement Gonthi, explained that initially, their office had a service charter but it expired. NICE sponsored the office to go to Ntchisi where they learnt how to develop their own to replace the expired one.

Gonthi said with this support, his office developed a new charter which they later translated from English to Chichewa, Tumbuka and Ngonde and made it available at the hospital for both staff and clients to refer to.

“The Service Charter tells the community what they should expect from a health worker as their right and at the same time, it shows what they are supposed to do as clients seeking medical services from the facility. Their responsibilities include respect to the staff as well as seeking medical help within a short time after feeling sick. This document helps in ensuring good service delivery,” he said.

Gonthi said previously, service charters were mainly communicated to health staff, which meant that the clients did not know their entitlements and responsibilities each time they access health services.

An informed community is a good one because the knowledge they have helps them to demand quality services from our staff and also approach the staff in the right manner. At the same time, if our staff know that the clients area aware of what is expected of us, they always deliver quality service. Service Charter is an accountability tool for us,” he added.

According to Gonthi, the district has 21 health facilities catering for the district population of 364,000. The district hospital has a 208 bed capacity.

District Civic Education Officer for Karonga, Christabel Munthali, explained that the idea to support the DHO came after they got a request and it was also after NICE had seen that people lacked knowledge and understanding on health service delivery, hence their rights were being violated and sometimes the citizens expected too much from the health workers.

“In line with this project, our aim is to give people information so that they are able to demand the services they deserve as a right and to hold to account those who are supposed to provide services or lead them,” she said.

Munthali added that besides health, NICE Karonga office was facilitating sensitisation in various areas of development so that the citizens know their rights and responsibilities, thereby taking an active role in public life.