The Health Surveillance Assistants (HSAs) in Kabudula, have the rare opportunity to learn Basic Live Saving Skills (BLS) and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), from two premedical students from USA, Jonah Tischler and Ben Scheflan, who are WAM volunteers, working in Kabudula, between July to August, 2014. HSAs play a key role in community based maternal and neonatal care, and it is envisaged that this training will enhance their skills in saving the lives of both mothers and their babies, including entire communities. Kabudula has nine health centres namely Kabudula, Nsaru, Ukwe, Nambuma, Chikowa, Malembo, Khongoni, Chilobwe and Chiwe, with 139 HSAs, which will be targeted. This kind of training has never been conducted before, and all the health centres are anxious to have it done. The training will be quite crucial as a number of avoidable deaths have occurred in the recent past partially due to lack of such skills. For instance at Nambuma Health Centre, several referral patients have died on their way to Kabudula and a number of children around Kabudula, have had seizures at home, with parents not knowing what to do with them. Apart from dying, some of these children have remained permanently disabled.
A Ministry of Health official confirms that there is a great need to train HSAs in Malawi on BLS, as some of them have only been trained in First Aid. He also points out that there has been demand to train HSAs in emergency care. He hopes this training feeds into future programming for HSAs.