While the HES is currently located within the Preventive Health department of the Ministry of Health, we link up with all of the departments in the MoH in all three levels of health promotion (promotion, prevention and rehabilitation).
Organisational structure: At the national level the HES is headed by a deputy director who attends Ministry of Health senior management meetings and provides strategic direction to the department. The Deputy Director is supported by the Health Education Unit (HEU), which is the technical arm of the section and is staffed with a technical officer, professional officers at Health Education Officer, Senior Health Education Officer, Principal Health Education officer, and the chief health education officer levels. Every district has a district health education officer at a professional officer grade who coordinates district health education programmes.
Our mission is to work with other government departments and stakeholders to:
- create public awareness
- facilitate community involvement and participation
- promote activities which will foster healthy behaviours
- encourage people to want to be healthy and stay healthy and do what they can individually and collectively do to maintain sound health and access client-friendly health services in a timely manner.
Our vision is a population that values, adopts and maintains health behaviours in a supportive environment.
The Ministry of Health (MoH) officially established the Health Education Section (HES) in 1969. At the time of our establishment, the section was located within the Public Health Department and the focus was preventive health issues including water, sanitation and hygiene education, maternal and child health including immunization.
Since our inception, the HES has been required to respond to a rapidly changing environment in which the demand for our services has grown. Throughout the 1970-80s, our role expanded to address a wide range of emerging health priorities which resulted from WHO’s Health for All strategy and the Declaration of Alma Ata on primary health care.
Over the past two decades, the challenges of emerging communicable and noncommunicable diseases have set dynamic changes in health promotion needs, not only for Malawi but globally. These changes have led to rapid changes in health promotion strategies aimed at enhancing the impact in addressing the situation.
Impact of the Health Promotion Policy 2013
Since the launch of the Health Promotion Policy in 2013 our emphasis has become health promotion rather than education. The HES has continued to evolve and respond to Malawi’s changing Social and Behavioral Change Communication (SBCC) needs as well as to the regional and global trends and developments. From disease prevention to being recognised as an essential component of different strategies including Primary Health Care, Sector Wide Approaches (SWAP) and the current Health Sector Strategic Plan (HSSP)/Essential Health Package (EHP).
Using current health promotion theory, models and evidence, the HES now coordinates overall health promotion programme implementation, development of tools and monitoring of SBCC activities. The HES has a central leadership role in facilitating coordination among existing governance systems and structures as well as a lead role in coordinating and planning with national programmes, Technical Working Groups (TWGs) and technical sub-committees (e.g. Sexual and Reproductive Health TWG, Safe Motherhood Sub-committees, National Nutrition Committee, Integrated Management of Childhood Infections TWG, Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission and others) on health promotion strategies, message harmonisation and social and behavior change interventions.
The HES developed the Health Promotion Policy in line with the WHO Afro-region Health Promotion policy (2003) which calls on all member states to develop health promotion policies that will among other objectives strengthen national capacities for health promotion, support priority health programmes and increase recognition of health promotion as a process of enabling people to increase control over determinants of health and consequently improve their health.