Lessons from the Better Health Programme Malaysia
Community engagement has proven an effective strategy to prevent and combat noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in lower and middle-income countries (LMICs), particularly in prevention, control and support for NCDs such as tobacco cessation, blood pressure, diabetes control and psychosocial support for mental health. In Malaysia, the government has adopted community engagement as a key strategy in achieving its NCD objectives.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has hindered community engagement approaches, which are typically conducted in-person. Amid government restrictions on in-person meetings, the Better Health Programme Malaysia, implemented by RTI with funding from the UK Foreign Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO), pivoted its approach to create and sustain a digital community around obesity and NCD prevention with the support of community health volunteers (CHVs).
Here are some of our key takeaways from building and sustaining this thriving virtual community during the pandemic.