The World Health Organization (WHO) Malawi Country Office’s (WCO) team of 64 staff members converged in the lakeshore district of Mangochi from 10 to 15 August 2022 for a staff retreat. The main aim of the retreat was to review their performances since the beginning of the year with a focus on its recent interventions in the life-threatening emergencies such as flooding, COVID-19 pandemic, and the polio outbreak and the cholera outbreak that affected Malawi.
During the retreat, staff were updated on WHO’s Transformation Agenda. This is in line with The Thirteen General Programme of Work (GPW 13), which defines the organisation’s five-year strategy, 2019-2025.
Speaking at the meeting, WHO Malawi Country Representative, Dr Kimambo, Neema Rusibamayila emphasised that: “Triple billion targets serve to measure WHO’s impact on people’s health. One billion more people are expected to have access of universal health coverage, receive protection from health emergencies, and enjoy better health and well-being. Malawi is set to contribute towards this”.
Dr Kimambo added that the WHO’s Transformation Agenda provides an opportunity for engagement with the government, other UN agencies and all stakeholders.
“The focus of transformation agenda is pro-results, ensures smart technical focus, responsive strategic operations in line with health needs and priorities of the people of Malawi.” She explained WHO’s transformation vision to staff. “We aim to optimize technical delivery, improve quality of work and ensure better resource management and value for money in our interventions.”
Dr Nampewo Solome, Health Systems Coordinator explained the importance of ensuring access to universal health care in Malawi: “We are working to improve access to quality essential health services irrespective of gender, age or disability status, at all levels of health delivery system. We are committed to reducing the number of people suffering financial hardship, especially now when the country facing several emergencies.”
Participants were also urged to boost their personal skills and knowledge by utilising the learning platforms of WHO. Staff were encouraged to utilise the WHO ilearn platform and maximise the mentoring and coaching opportunities available in WHO.
The Ombudsman also presented on the various policies related to Prevention of Sexual Exploitation, Abuse, Harassment and Abuse of Authority. WHO staff were reminded to be ambassadors to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse of authority, everywhere, beyond the workplace environment always.
The team engaged in an open and constructive exchange of ideas to improve the WHO country office. Self-awareness moments provided insights on ways to improve the health system. The open-minded nature of the retreat ensued negative and positive reactions. Everyone calmly provided remedies to improve WHO’s teamwork, in a relaxed mode. The need for effective, responsive and respectful communication was emphasized.
Selamani Ngwira, Data Manager, from Nsanje district, couldn’t hide his joy after knowing and bonding with his colleagues and supervisors. “The staff retreat was very interesting. It brought us together, ensuring teamwork, with our supervisors. I personally now know my leaders following this retreat. We connected and bonded beyond exchanging memos and deadlines via email and phone. This will strengthen our coordinated response, during emergencies, whilst providing routine health services,” said Selaman.
To foster teamwork and coherence, the staff retreat was fused with fun activities, simulations, and sporting activities. Staff members were urged to maintain a work-life balance so that they are fully productive in a work environment. The retreat ended on 15th September 2022 with all staff empowered and energised to contribute their best efforts in achieving the goals of the Organisation.