Dr Henry Chakaniza
Dr Henry has been a Doctor with Illovo Sugar (Malawi) plc for 20 years; and through his current clinics helps to treat up to 11,000 people monthly within the catchment area of the Illovo Dwangwa Estate.
We caught up with Dr Henry to find out more about the services offered, his career as a Doctor and his aspirations for the future:
You’ve worked at the clinics for 20 years, what has changed during this time?
There has been a huge transformation of the services, the infrastructure, the equipment and our diagnostic ability. We started small and I have been a part of developing what is available now. This has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my job and I enjoy being a part of the change and transformation going forward.
Have you always wanted to be a doctor?
What is the most challenging part of your job?
The combination of being a doctor, a clinician and a manager is challenging as you’re doing very different jobs. I love challenges but it’s not easy, I just do it to the best of my ability.
How many people do you see/treat on average?
Who are the clinics open to?
Our immediate community is Illovo Sugar Malawi’s employees (permanent, seasonal and casual) and their dependents, which amounts to around 20,000 people. In addition, given the rural location of the estate, our clinics also offer free services to the community just as Government facilities would. These include antenatal, family planning, child care (growth monitoring and immunisation for children under five years old), and HIV and Tuberculosis (TB) treatment services. As a result, when you count the total population that we treat within our catchment area, it’s in the region of up to 130,000 people annually.
Tell us about the services offered
Our clinics offer a wide range of services from public to primary and occupational health, supportive health and mental health services, including counselling. We also have a high dependency unit with resuscitation equipment, a laboratory for conducting tests, ultrasound capability, a labour ward and family planning. Our biggest clinic has a 46-bed capacity.
Are you able to go out into the community as part of your role to educate those that cannot make it into the clinics? And do you partner with anyone on this?
I believe prevention is more important than treatment; people must be prevented from falling into sickness and to do that you must be in the community. Not just in our community but everywhere.
We’ve partnered with some NGOs, and the Government of Malawi is one of our biggest partners that we consult with in areas such as malaria control, to maternal and child health services, and TB programmes. We dispense antiretroviral medications for HIV on behalf of the Government through our Clinic system to those requiring this treatment.
Why are the services and clinics provided so important for the local community?
At Illovo Sugar Malawi we believe in being welcomed into the communities in which we operate, by ensuring everyone benefits from our presence in the area. This is achieved through building thriving and healthy communities, of which our clinics and health services are an integral part. As a business, we can only thrive when the surrounding communities are too.
In the Dwangwa area there is limited access to health facilities as the main Government Hospital in the district is located 60km away from the estate, therefore people would have to travel much further to seek medical attention. The district recognises the impact of our services and of us being here within the local community therefore, our presence is extremely important to ensure the health needs of those living in the area are met.
What are your aspirations for the health programmes you’re working on and your role in the future?
My aspiration is to continue to make our health programmes sustainable and relevant so we can continue to service the health needs of not only our own employees, their families and our contractors but also the wider communities surrounding our estate; and continuously improve and impact positively the well-being of those we are entrusted to care for.