Action Meningitis Team

Thomasena O'ByrneThomasena O'Byrne
Project Manager for the Action Meningitis project in Malawi


Hi I’m Thomasena. I’m Project Manager for the Action Meningitis project in Malawi and I’m based in Blantyre, Malawi’s second largest city.

Managing the day to day operations of the project keeps me busy! Co-ordinating the delivery of the project involves working closely with the healthcare workers, clinic in-charges and Malawi Ministry of Health to ensure that the triage system is running smoothly in the clinics. I also manage our Fieldworkers, who gather data so that we can monitor the system is working well. I also help troubleshoot any issues that arise, in collaboration with our technology partners, D-tree International.

I also co ordinate our health awareness programme for local communities. Through radio and theatre we deliver messages about meningitis, to encourage early recognition of the disease and prompt action.
Each day brings with it new challenges but it has been incredibly rewarding watching both the healthcare workers and patients benefiting from our intervention which ensures that those children that are very sick are prioritized to be seen by a clinician before non urgent cases. This was not the case when we started working on this project and can literally mean the difference between life and death.

I am very excited about developing our work later in the year with the wonderful local communities here in Blantyre district through the Theatre for Development component of Action Meningitis. This will really help to further our understanding of the misconceptions of meningitis in Malawi and to work with the local communities at grass root level to raise awareness of the symptoms and the importance of seeking health care as early as possible.


Rachel Perrin Rachel Perrin
International Development Officer


Hi, I’m Rachel. I oversee our Action Meningitis project in Malawi, which is committed to reducing the number of child deaths and disability from meningitis.

In Malawi health clinics are chaotic and overcrowded. Very sick children wait hours; some die before the doctor has time to see them. Action Meningitis improves chances of survival by helping health workers quickly and accurately identify severe illnesses, like meningitis. Using a specially created mobile phone app, health workers assess a child’s symptoms on arrival, and emergency cases are fast-tracked to hospital.

This work in the clinics is dove-tailed with radio and theatre campaigns to help raise awareness of meningitis within the community.

Working alongside Thomasena, our Blantyre-based project manager, my role is to help plan, implement and fundraise for the project.


Bernadetta Payesa Bernadetta Payesa
Action Meningitis Field Supervisor


Bernadetta Payesa, aged 25, lives in Chileka, Blantyre and is our Action Meningitis field supervisor.

"I joined the team in October 2012 and my role is field supervisor to go out to the health facilities to make sure triage is being done and that the phones are working correctly. I have to feedback to our project manager Thomasena and D-tree (phone provider) if the phones have any problems."

More about Bernadetta and her work


Willard Chilunga Willard Chilunga
Action Meningitis Field Worker
Willard Chilunga (25) comes from the Bangwe township where one our clinics is situated.

In October 2012 I joined Action Meningitis as a a field worker at Queens Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH), which includes doing follow ups on patients that have been referred from the five Health facilities that we are working with: Bangwe, Ndirande, Chilomoni, Mpemba and Zingwangwa health facility.

More about Willard and his work


Meliya Kwelepeta Meliya Kwelepeta
Action Meningitis Field Worker
Meliya Kwelepeta is 23 years years old and live in Ndirande, Malawi.

She has a certificate in HIV and AIDS Management Diploma and is currently doing an advance Diploma.

She joined Action Meningitis as a Field Worker at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre tracking referrals from primary health centres in September 2013.

More about Meliya and her work


Zione Kalyosi Zione Kalyosi
Action Meningitis Field Worker
My name is Zione Kalyosi and I am 27 years old and live in Chikhwawa, Malawi.

I have a Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) and am currently studying towards a certificate in Rural Development Studies.

I joined Action Meningitis in October 2013 and my role is a field worker in the district hospital and rural clinics in Chikhwawa where we have implemented the mobile phone triage system in the clinics with the health care assistants. This helps them identify very sick children who come to the clinic and ensure they get seen as quickly as possible by a doctor and then refered to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH).

More about Zione and her work

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