Health Snapshot in a Pandemic*
As COVID-19 threatens worldwide, African countries, including Malawi, face numerous challenges to fight this global pandemic. Most health facilities in Malawi including district and central hospitals have acute shortages of COVID-19 related Personal Protective Equipment for health care workers. In addition, Malawi has only 13 hospital beds per 10,000 people, a fraction of what might be needed should cases spread rapidly.
Even as COVID presents an immediate threat, HIV/AIDS remains the leading cause of premature death and the second leading cause of disability, while malnutrition and poor water and sanitation also contribute to adverse health outcomes in the country.
While the Malawi government has made significant strides in fighting the pandemic, Americares Malawi team is working with them, and African Parks, to help strengthen health facilities and protect health care workers. Americares is supporting key water and sanitation infrastructure investments at the health centers, partnering with the government to support health worker training on COVID-19 clinical case management in three districts, and providing crucial hand washing infrastructure and outreach in over 50 rural communities.
Key Health Statistics:
- Total expenditure on health as a percentage of GDP: 11.38%
- As of 2018, one million Malawians were living with HIV/AIDs
- As of 2018 37% of children under five were stunted
- 439 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births
*Health snapshot statistics from WHO and World Bank
Photos by Thoko Chikondi
Recent Health Center Projects Completed
The District Maintenance Team has finalized the construction of an ashpit and incinerator at Namanolo Health Center. Previously the health center did not have any appropriate infrastructure for waste disposal. Prior to the completion of the ash pit and incinerator, the facility used a makeshift incinerator made from a water reservoir tank. This method did not conform with medical standards, nor was it safe for staff to use. The construction of the incinerator will go a long way in ensuring safety of patients as well as children who are close to the facility and might be affected by the removal of medical waste at the facility.
Emergency Response in Country
Due to the infrastructure damage and flooding caused by Tropical Storm Ana, thousands of people remained displaced across 52 displacement camps in Malawi’s Chikwawa district (down from a total of 92 camps in the immediate aftermath of the storm).
In response to this emergency, Americares is supporting the procurement and distribution of urgently needed WASH supplies including water treatment supplies and buckets for use in the camps. The Americares Malawi office is leading the procurement and will distribute the supplies with the support of our local partner, African Parks. Upon delivery of the WASH supplies, local Health Surveillance Agents (HSAs) will deliver hygiene promotion discussions at each of the camps.
Americares Emergency Response team has awarded our colleagues in the African Parks Partnerships team funding for cholera prevention activities, stemming from conditions that resulted from Tropical Cyclone Ana. The team in Malawi will use the funds to purchase and distribute HTH (chlorine) to clinics and health centers in Namanolo, Mwima, Ulongwe, and Nandumbo. Further, the program funds will directly support mass sensitization and community mobilization to five locations – Mmanga, Namanolo, Mwima, Ulongwe, Nandumbo. Funds will directly support community health workers that will be spreading cholera preparedness messaging.
If you would like more information on our work in Malawi, please contact AfricaHealth@americares.org.