Child Mortality Rate


Deaths in 1,000 Live Births

In-Country Since


MFH in Malawi

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. It ranks fourth in Africa after Burundi, the Central African Republic and Somalia. With a population of over 18 million people, the pressure on limited resources is huge. As a result, the country has some of the worst health outcomes in Africa.  

According to USAID, the Republic of Malawi has one of the highest maternal mortality ratios globally, currently estimated at 439 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.  With a child mortality rate for Malawi is 50 per 1000, at least 32,000 children die before they see their fifth birthday in Malawi. 

In order to adequately understand the severity of the health problems and identify feasible, cost effective evidence-based interventions, MFH has started a two-year pilot project in the St. Joseph Health Centre in Chiphwanya.  This site has been chosen because of several factors. These include its location in a rural area, a significantly large health area with over 37 villages, the high number of children dying and the committed, responsive and able leadership at the clinic.  The pilot project will seek to address some of the key proximal causes of maternal and child deaths in the area. The plan is to expand the project to all eleven Teresian sites if and when funding is available. 

Country Snapshot

Extreme poverty, undernutrition, limited access to quality health services and unavailability of health services, lack of WASH-related services are the root causes of the poor health outcomes in Malawi. The effects of these problems and how they impact on health outcomes is detailed below. 

Poverty:  Poverty levels are high in the rural areas of Malawi, where over 80% of the population resides. Out of the total rural population, 57.0 percent is poor compared to 17.0 percent of the urban population. Due to poverty, Malawians are unable to access quality health services. Poverty also limits access to nutritious food and food supplements.  

Limited access to¬†and unavailability of¬†quality health services: Limited access to health services in Malawi affect a majority Malawians. Only 46% of citizens live within a 5‚ÄĮkm radius of any kind of health facility. ‚ÄĮDespite most public health services being free for the patients,¬†there are often costs associated with transportation to and from a facility. These costs deter many individuals that may be in dire need of care but cannot afford to assume the costs of transportation. Additional transportation needs complicate matters when an individual is referred from either a rural hospital to a district hospital or a district hospital to a central hospital.

Undernutrition: Nutrition remains a serious health and development problem in Malawi. While stunting and underweight rates decreased markedly from 2004 to 2010, the rates remain high and reflect chronic shortages in food quantity and quality.  

Limited access to WASH services:¬†Water is vital for a healthy population.‚ÄĮ In Malawi, about¬† 4 million people (mostly in the rural areas) still lack access to safe water. Additionally, only six percent of the population has access to an improved sanitation facility. Poor sanitation practices and improper storage of drinking water commonly lead to waterborne illnesses such as cholera.¬†As a result,¬†over¬†78% of children under two years old experienced at least one incident of diarrhea¬†each year.¬†¬†

With a child mortality rate for Malawi is 50 per 1000, at least 32,000 children die before they see their fifth birthday.¬†The primary causes of child deaths malaria, diarrhea, and pneumonia.‚ÄĮNeonatal mortality, often caused by birth asphyxia, premature birth, and infection, is estimated at 29 per 1,000 live births.

Our main goal at our project site in Malawi is to reduce the number of mothers and children dying by 30% within two years. 

MFH will partner with district officials to provide training on integrated management of childhood infections, effective use of partograms as well as on other topics where health facility staff need to improve on their knowledge and skills. Some basic equipment for diagnosis and delivery of health services will be purchased. In addition, allocations for minor renovations will be made. Given the problem of drugs stockouts, some funds will be set aside to fill part of this gap. In order to ensure timely access for mothers who need timely referrals services, the project will provide fuel to help with the transportation of pregnant mothers. In order to increase post-natal attendance for pregnant mothers and health centre delivery, tokens will be provided to those who successfully complete their post-natal bookings and deliver at the health facility. The project will provide nutrition supplements as needed.

Additionally, MFH will facilitate refresher training for Community Health Workers, and improve critically needed WASH services. Project staff will partner with village headmen to activate village WASH committees. These committees will put in place structures to encourage the construction of latrines and encourage the USE of latrines. These committees will also help educate community members on WASH related issues. 

Amongst the numerous religious communities are actively providing healthcare services for people in Malawi, the Teresian Sisters are one of the most active. Founded by the Missionaries of Africa, the Teresian Sisters are also active in the fields of education, pastoral work and administration. They currently run eleven health facilities in Malawi. 

Project Sites

  • Champaywa¬†Health Centre


  • Teresian Sisters

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