Child mortality rates have improved in recent years with increased reach of immunisation campaigns but maternal mortality rates remain unacceptably high.
Malawi is a small nation in southern Africa with a population of about thirteen million. It is one of the least developed countries with very low life expectancy. Two thirds of the population live below the national poverty line and more than one in five people live in ultra poverty – unable to afford basic minimum food requirements.
Population growth, fertility, maternal and child mortality rates are among the highest in Africa and forty six per cent of children under the age of five are chronically malnourished. Families and communities are grappling with HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases, dependant upon increasingly unpredictable rains to support subsistence farming on severely depleted soils in a deteriorating natural environment. Eighty five per cent of the population lives in rural areas on landholdings of diminishing size.
We have the opportunity to help more than half of Malawi’s population out of extreme poverty. In Malawi, 69 infants for every 1,000 live births and 118 children under five, die from preventable or treatable illnesses. Maternal mortality rates are among the highest in the world claiming over 5,800 women at childbirth or pregnancy related illnesses. These unacceptable high fatalities can be stopped with simple measures including access to child and maternal health care, immunisation, distribution of mosquito nets and prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV and proper nutrition.
We have an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate growth, reduce poverty and realize a meaningful change in the lives of millions of Malawians.
More than a quarter of Malawians do not have access to safe drinking water sources. Only half of healthcare clinics have a proper water supply and sanitation. With clean water and sanitation, we can reduce the appalling numbers every year who suffer from cholera and other water borne diseases.
More women and girls should have an education, go to school, access economic and political opportunity, and have greater security.
There is great potential to improve the quality of life of every Malawians. We know the problems and we know what to do. Government, NGOs, civil society, political and local leaders and the UN must work diligently together to secure the resources and political will to make the goals a reality by 2019.
The MDGs are achievable with the right combination of policy action and policy sequencing, the right application of resources effective communication. It requires scaling up of public investment, capacity building, domestic resource mobilization and international partnership and development assistant. We need to strengthen governance, human rights, engage with civil society and promote the private sector.