Malawi has seen a recent surge in COVID-19 after a period with very few new reported cases. In mid-January, the president declared a state of emergency, temporarily closing schools, prohibiting gatherings of over 50 people and enforcing a nighttime curfew.
Prolonged school closures over the course of the pandemic have fueled teenage pregnancies and early marriage. Significant increases of domestic violence have been reported. Lengthy stay at home orders have decreased economic opportunities, leading to increased levels of abuse.
This surge in cases is being fueled by the highly infectious strain of coronavirus first discovered in South Africa. This surge is putting extraordinary strains on an already burdened health care system. Although not the primary facilities responsible for treating COVID patients, mission hospitals have converted parts of their facilities to COVID treatment—including those supported by the Presbyterian Church in Canada in Ekwendeni, Livingstonia and Mulanje.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Presbyterian Church in Canada (through PWS&D and International Ministries) have provided support to partners in Malawi, ensuring that project work could continue.
In order to ensure that activities can continue safely, partners have largely cancelled community meetings of over 20 people. Physical distancing is being enforced at any community meeting or training. Meetings are being held in large outdoor spaces, with facilities provided for handwashing and facilitators wearing face masks. Partners have increased community awareness sessions and messages about COVID prevention and management.
- To maintain health gains made through PWS&D’s maternal and child health projects, we continue to provide support to outreach clinics with a focus on mothers and children under five (as well as the general population) in the context of COVID-19. Using community structures created through the project, education and awareness sessions, case management and follow-up, and contact tracing are taking place.
- Standard maternal, neonatal and childhood health services also continued to be provided through outreach clinics and health posts.
- Equipment, drugs, personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies for COVID-19 prevention have been procured.
- Health care workers have received COVID-19 training, in line with World Health Organization guidelines.
- With increases in teen pregnancy and early marriage since the start of the pandemic, youth are being empowered with sexual and reproductive health knowledge. Those who might become HIV positive may be provided with antiretroviral therapy. Youth are also being taught the advocacy skills to help defend their rights.
- Vaccinations: to date, no one in Malawi has received the COVID-19 vaccine and it is unclear when vaccination will be possible. We remain concerned about equitable access to the vaccine around the world, particularly in developing countries.
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Farmers are seeing a reduction in income as a result of COVID-19, with farmers making less money and paying more for farm inputs. We support rural farmers to strengthen farm production and market capacity, with all safety precautions being implemented for training and farm visits
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- To curb a rise in early marriages and teen pregnancies, it is important that we invest in health, education and livelihood support for vulnerable people—with a particular focus on women and girls.
- Partners support self-help groups, where members can access loans to help start small businesses, in a context where many have faced lost income due to stay at home orders.
- We ensure support for orphans and vulnerable children, who are more vulnerable because of lockdowns, reduced incomes and school closures.
- Zomba Theological College—supported by International Ministries —was provided with PPE and essential cleaning materials to meet government requirements for reopening the school. Click here for more information.
With ever-growing case numbers and a system largely unable to address the crisis, support for this work remains vital.
Click below to support our ongoing response to COVID-19 in Malawi, click below or call us at 1-800-619-7301 or 416-441-1111 x291. Please include “COVID Response-Malawi” in the designation field.