Malawi: Our Impact

 {Photo Credit: Rejoice Phiri/MSH}The isolation unit at Lilongwe’s Kamuzu Central Hospital includes a screening room; an Intensive Care Unit; male, female, and pediatric wards; and toilets and showers.Photo Credit: Rejoice Phiri/MSH

Story by Rejoice Phiri, Communications Manager, ONSE Health ActivityWhen the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency, many Malawians remained unconcerned. Despite the broadcast of infection prevention messages encouraging people to wash their hands frequently with soap and water, community members were heard to ask: “why should we waste soap when we only wash when getting ready to eat a meal?” However, attitudes changed on April 2nd when the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in the capital city of Lilongwe.

 {Photo Credit: Rejoice Phiri/MSH}Two women wash their hands outside Nathenje Health Center.Photo Credit: Rejoice Phiri/MSH

Story and photos by Rejoice Phiri, Communications Manager, ONSE Health ActivityMalawi’s media is awash with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has changed daily life in the country, as well as worldwide.

{Photo credit: Rejoice Phiri/MSH}Mobile teams broadcast information to community members regarding COVID-19 transmission, self-quarantine, and other preventive measures.Photo credit: Rejoice Phiri/MSH

On April 2, 2020, Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika confirmed the country's first cases of COVID-19.

Maziko Matemba, Community Health Ambassador of Malawi, is introduced by Hellen Dzoole Mwale, Technical Director for Demand Creation, ONSE Health Activity. Photo Credit: Rejoice Phiri/MSH

In Malawi, where 84% of people live in rural areas and 24% do not live close to a health facility, improving access to quality, community-based care is a key step on the journey toward universal health care coverage. At a special event held in Lilongwe on December 12, 2019, health rights activist Maziko Matemba was named the first Community Health Ambassador of Malawi.

Kitty (far left) attends a Community Health Action Group meeting to discuss ways to improve their reach in the community.

Story by Sam Sande, District WASH Officer, and Rejoice Phiri, Communications Manager, USAID’s ONSE Health Activity“Faliya and I have built over 14 toilets and we are not slowing down,” says Kitty Kachingwe Likuda, a resident of Khanyizira in Malawi’s southern district of Mulanje.The lack of proper sanitation and hygiene remains one of the greatest barriers to global development. Approximately 47% of households in rural areas of Malawi still lack access to an improved sanitation facility, which commonly leads to waterborne illnesses such as diarrhea.

 {Photo credit: Erik Schouten/MSH}Alinafe flood camp, Chikwawa district, Malawi.Photo credit: Erik Schouten/MSH

In March, heavy rains following Tropical Cyclone Idai devastated Malawi. The storm injured 677 people; 59 died. According to the Malawi government, some 87,000 people were displaced from their homes. Some families spent nights in school-based emergency shelters, while classrooms teemed with students during the day. Some lived in tents, sometimes shared among four to five people. Others had to fend for themselves, building makeshift shelters from scavenged materials. The storm also ravaged the crops and livestock most families rely on for food and income.

{Photo credit: Rejoice Phiri/MSH}Midwife Chirford Semu stands in the labor and delivery room at Bowe Health Center, in Dowa district, Malawi.Photo credit: Rejoice Phiri/MSH

Chirford Semu knows that time is of the essence when complications arise during labor and delivery.He is a midwife at Bowe Health Center in Dowa district, one of the most remote areas in Malawi. This single health center serves an estimated 42,445 people.

 {Photo credit: Samy Rakotoniaina/MSH}A health worker checks malaria commodities at a private clinic in Balaka, Malawi.Photo credit: Samy Rakotoniaina/MSH

“Malaria is a very big problem that we are still fighting,” says Dr. Samantha Musasa, Medical Officer for Balaka district, located in Southern Malawi. Indeed, Malaria kills some 435,000 people around the world each year, the majority of them children. In Malawi, the prevalence of malaria among children under five remains dangerously high, at around 23.6%.Left unattended, malaria can progress very quickly.

A woman learns more about available family planning methods during an outreach clinic visit to Mulanje, Malawi.Photo Credit: Samy Rakotoniaina

 

24-year-old Hawa Swaleyi facilitates a discussion about relationships with her youth group at Kapiri Health Center, Malawi.

The grounds around Kapiri Health Center in Malawi’s Nkhotakota District are a beehive of activity, with boys and girls of all ages playing hotchpotch, kicking a makeshift ball, and chattering loudly. Suddenly, they run for the indaba—a repurposed outpatient waiting shelter. Hawa Swaleyi is approaching, carrying her frame with an aura of grace and positivity. With a familiar smile she greets her youth group, who cheerily respond in sing-song voices.

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