Ministry of Health Is Scaling Up Primary Health Services in Malawi with Help from MSH

As a leader in Malawi’s health care sector since 2003, with a strong staff of Malawi managerial and clinical professionals, MSH has worked closely with the Malawi's Ministry of Health (MOH)  to scale up and improve health care service delivery at all levels, while strengthening critical management gaps in Malawi’s health care system.

Currently, MSH has five major projects funded by the United States Agency for International Development, as well as a number of other more targeted initiatives, working across a wide range of areas including tuberculosis, HIV & AIDS, family planning/reproductive health (FP/RH), and child health. Systems strengthening interventions include pharmaceutical management, human resource management, health information systems, and monitoring and evaluation, among others.

By using donor funds to complement MOH activities to support national policies and structures, and by using a flexible approach to adapt strategies to changing needs in each district, the MOH, with help from MSH, has successfully implemented a number of nationwide initiatives. In the last two years alone, they have supported

  • the training of more than 1,000 nurse midwives from 28 districts in prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV;

  • the roll-out of essential monitoring and evaluation tools to enable the accurate collection of PMTCT data, benefiting 600 facilities and 3,000 health workers;

  • the implementation of CoArtem as a first-line antimalarial drug, including the training of pharmaceutical workers to dispense the medication and maintain records.

In focus districts, the MOH and MSH have also has supported district management teams to take several initiatives to scale, including

  • the establishment of 500 village clinics in eight districts—serving more than 25 percent of children in inaccessible areas in those districts and, from January-March 2010, treating more than 83,000 episodes of fever, diarrhea, and pneumonia in children under five;

  • expanding access to family planning services in eight districts by training 361 community health workers and 1,000 community-based distribution agents (76 workers are also offering HIV & AIDS testing and counseling);

  • strengthening community-based malaria interventions through a small grant program to mobilize local nongovernmental organizations—reaching 23 out of 28 districts;

  • building and strengthening TB services and laboratories, laying the foundation for the first multidrug-resistant TB survey in Malawi, allowing for management of MDR-TB patients.

The MOH and MSH are also supporting a pilot program to develop an approach for a community essential nutrition action program to support Malawi’s national nutritional program. And, they are beginning a one-year knowledge management pilot project—including the use of an SMS (short-message system) in two districts to improve the quality and access of FP/RH, child health, and HIV & AIDS information between the national, district, and community levels.


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