By Chancy Namadzunda:
Banja La Mtsogolo (BLM) has launched a new women’s wellness services to be provided by experts in their 25 clinics across the country.
Briefing the media in Lilongwe on Wednesday, BLM Programs and Operations Director Wina Sangala said the services include maternity services, cervical cancer screening, ultrasound scanning, couples fertility counselling, child health services, mensuration, and menopause services
“As a forward-thinking organization, Banja La Mtsogolo believes in responding to present times and context. From 1987, Banja La Mtsogolo has been delighted to compliment the efforts of the Malawi government in providing quality health care with a focus on family planning to Malawian women and girls. Looking back, Banja La Mtsogolo feels super proud of the service rendered to Malawian women with unwavering commitment.
“The World Health Organization rightly defines health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. This definition means health needs to be a continuum of care spanning through different stages of life.
“While Malawi continues to make remarkable progress towards women’s health initiatives, discussions around the changes of a woman’s body throughout life and the health issues that come with it are often overlooked,” she said.
Sangala further said BLM conducted research with women in Lilongwe, Blantyre, Zomba and Mzuzu to understand the impact of taboos on accessing women’s healthcare with many women saying they are too embarrassed to discuss issues they claimed society tags as “women issues” with a medical professional.
For example, she said, Nora a young professional from Zomba city said “ once start mensuration, you feel there is nobody to talk to. If you develop complications like period pains, you wonder if this is normal and you feel embarrassed to talk about it. At a later stage as a young woman, you get married and everyone expects you to give birth. If you have fertility issues, again there is no one to talk to freely”.
“This is because talking freely about women’s health remains taboo or highly embarrassing in Malawi. These taboos have been further enshrined in our social norms. Pressure on fertility leads to a heavy focus on childbearing in women’s health which neglects the wider needs throughout women’s lives. Think of this- How often are women being supported to deal with painful or heavy menstruation?
“When is the last time you heard any public discussion on the menopause and the symptoms it brings? These are issues that have a profound impact on women’s quality of life yet are often ignored or trivialized by both the public and health care professionals,” said Sangala
She added that in launching the new women’s wellness services, Banja La Mtsogolo seeks to change the approach to women’s health and support women to thrive at every stage of their lives.
“The 25 Banja La Mtsogolo clinics across the country will provide a range of dedicated services that cater for every stage of a woman’s life, from menstruation to menopause,” she said
The launch was supported by the ‘For Every Stage of Woman’ Campaign and supported on social media with a campaign to provide accurate, easy to understand information on women’s health issues under the hashtag (#IsthisNormal?).
“We hope you will all participate in this campaign to help create dialogue, share information, and foster conversations on neglected topics in women’s health. We thank the Ministry of Health for a warm and cordial working relationship that has existed between the two entities over 34 years. Banja La Mtsogolo is always proud to compliment the efforts of the Ministry of Health,” she said