Rose Kumwenda-Ng'oma is Executive Director for Christian Health Association of Malawi (CHAM). CHAM is a coordinating agency for Church owned Health facilities. It is owned by the churches in Malawi through the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) and Malawi Council for Churches.
Where (and when) were you born?
I was born in 1974 in Rumphi District. I am the first born in my family with one real sister and three half-sisters. My father comes from Rumphi District and my mother from Nkhata- Bay but we settled in Kasungu. I grew up from a middle class family. My father was and still is a secondary school teacher. My mother was a Home craft worker. I am married to Dr Kondwani Ngóma and God has blessed us with four children (two adopted and 2 biological)
Give us a brief break down of your educational and professional background?
I went to St Patricks Primary School (RU2)- Rumphi District and Simlemba Primary School – (Kasungu North) where I got selected to go to Ekwendeni Girls Secondary School. I completed my form four in 1992 and got 26 points. I was not selected to the University. However I went to Zomba Nursing School and was offered a Scholarship to study Nursing at the University of Malawi- Kamuzu College of Nursing. I graduated in 2000 with a credit in Nursing Science. In 2001 I was awarded a DFID shared Scholarship to study Social Development and Health Policy Planning at Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh, Scotland. I graduated with a Master's degree and came back to Malawi to work for my country. I was offered an opportunity to continue with a PHD but at that time, I declined the offer as I felt my country needed my contribution more as opposed to the studies. This was the time Malawi had just gone through a terrible famine. I was working for Save the Children (UK).
I also hold post graduate Certificates in Executive Leadership and Management; International Healthcare financing and economics to mention a few. I have worked for different organisations in different capacities Save the children UK , DFIFD education Sector Support Program, Malawi Business Coalition Against HIV/AIDS(MBCA). I facilitated the establishment of MBCA Secretariat and worked with companies to establish HIV/AIDS workplace policies and programs in Malawi. For family reasons, I moved to Lilongwe and worked for Health Foundation Consortium as Program Manager. I left and joined CHAM in 2008 as Deputy Executive Director. I have been with CHAM since then.
What does your job entail?
My role involves providing strategic direction with regard to the operations of CHAM in Malawi. I also, facilitate policy planning and implementation, whilst coordinating different partners. I also work with my team to mobilise financial and materials, strengthen collaboration and partnerships and ensure that our health facilities are adhering to government health and financial policies.. My office reports to the Board of Directors, who oversee the performance of CHAM Secretariat on behalf of the Mother Bodies and Proprietors. My office works very closely with the Ministry of Health, Donors and CHAM member health facilities and proprietors (owners of the hospitals) who largely happen to be churches.
I sit on various Health Boards for our hospitals. I am a Board member of ACT Alliance, Christian Health Associations Platform for Africa (ACHAP) and Roll back Malaria
What are some of the challenges you face on your job as a woman?
As a professional woman, I have to juggle with work, family and other corporate responsibilities. I have to balance up all these to ensure that all my priorities are achieved at the end of the day. One thing I have learnt is to prioritise, and plan ahead. This has assisted me to ensure that my family is happy and at the same time achieving my professional and organisational goals.
Being in leadership position for me means I have to be on top of things, I have to be politically sensitive to the environment I am working in and also ensure that I open my network lines to ensure that I am kept abreast of what is happening around me, my organisation and my country(Locally and internationally). This is important as it helps me to plan ahead and identify ways of ensuring our institution is not out of business.
What are the challenges in the profession you have chosen?
Working in an ecumenical and male-dominated kind of environment is a challenge. As a woman I really need to make myself competitive in a male -dominated environment.
The other thing is to deal with diverse teams and ensuring Team Spirit is promoted at all levels, and that all staff shares the vision of the leadership. Leading an organisation requires that the leader should promote team spirit and has a shared vision with staff.
What keeps you going?
There are a number of things that keep me going. Firstly trusting God in everything I do. Secondly my family, my children are a source of inspiration. I love them. Another thing is being a blessing to other keeps me awake. Lastly, my faith and belief in God. I am a positive person. Being positive about life and surrendering all my challenges or problems to God keeps me going. I always put God first and allow him to build the foundation of my life in everything I do.
What would you like to see happen for CHAM?
I would like to see CHAM become a lead agency in the privately-owned health care delivery in Malawi. We want to expand our contributions towards human resource for health and improved quality service delivery across the country. Mission hospitals have a history of quality and good care. My preoccupation is to improve the quality and embrace information technology in the delivery of our health care services in Malawi.
How would you advise young women to operate in this world if they are to make it?
Be focussed, confident and courageous to take up risk and challenges, the Sky is the limit. Success does not come on a silver platter, one need to work hard, be visionary, set goals and implement them.
Give us one of your favourite quotes.
I have so many favourite quotes but the ones I like most include: Good is not enough , the best is yet to come. In everything Walk with God and run from evil. Choose to do what's right and acceptable in the sight of God no matter how you feel (Joyce Meyer).