UKAID gives Malawi extra K6 billion for COVID-19

Chiponda and counterpart

Visiting UK Minister for Africa, James Duddridge, has announced an additional £6 million (approx. MWK 5.3 Billion) to Malawi for scaling up the country’s COVID-19 preparedness and response.

The Minister made this announcement during his visit to a warehouse facility for COVID-19 supplies in Kanengo, Lilongwe, which is managed by UNICEF Malawi.

The package, through UNICEF, supports the Ministry of Health’s comprehensive COVID-19 plan to procure more supplies, enhance prevention measures as well as strengthen the capacity of health facilities to supply oxygen to those seriously affected.

This package is an addition to the £1.8m of UK aid that was provided earlier in March to support the setting up of the national testing lab, improve screening across nine districts, setting up of six emergency treatment units, training of 200 health workers, and procuring vital supplies as well as raising public awareness about the pandemic.

The UK will also support the Malawi Government to expand surveillance and improve contact tracing, improve communications and coordination, procure essential supplies, strengthen acute treatment, and improve the survival of those who are severely affected by the virus.

Minister Duddridge said: “The UK has a longstanding record of supporting countries across the globe to prepare for disease outbreaks. COVID-19 presents the biggest public health emergency in a generation. With our new package of support, we will help strengthen Malawi Government’s response by doubling the number of communities that will be reached with public health surveillance, prevention and treatment services.

UKAID

“To defeat this virus, it is up to all of us to avoid spreading it –especially by wearing a face covering when we are with other people and washing our hands frequently.”

Malawi’s Health Minister Honourable Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda said: “Sincere gratitude to the Government of the United Kingdom for the timely and essential support to people of Malawi. The UK itself hasn’t been spared by the pandemic but they have extended a helping hand to Malawi. This is humanity at its best. You don’t have to be in the best position to offer help”

The FCDO was quick to mobilize funding for the COVID-19 response as early as March, before the first COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Malawi. The timely delivery of supplies and services, through UNICEF, strengthened the response.

UNICEF Malawi Representative, Rudolf Schwenk said:“With UK Aid, UNICEF is developing a sustainable oxygen ecosystem which will benefit the Malawi population beyond the pandemic and much into the future. It is clear from the COVID-19 experience that a responsive and resilient health system is more important than ever. We look forward to greater collaboration with the UK Government in strengthening Malawi’s health system, for every child.”

Latest Covid-19 statistics for Malawi indicates s total of 5,786 positive cases, 179 deaths.1,066 current active cases (as at 05-10-20).

In March this year, UKAID provided MWK1.7 billion for Covid-19 response in Malawi.

COVID-19 poses major health risks in Malawi

UKAID

Although the population is young, there are severe underlying health risks: 38percent of children are stunted; and HIV/AIDS prevalence stands at 9.6 per cent. Around 10millionMalawians do not use basic sanitation. With 67 percent of those in urban areas living in slums, transmission is a major concern.

This extra UKAID funding of £6 million [made available in June 2020] is enabling us, through UNICEF Malawi, to support Malawi Government’s COVID-19 preparedness and response by among other things:

Surveillance: expanding surveillance to 12 additional districts (21 total)

Treatment and control: equipping two more Emergency Treatment Units (eight total); deploying 40 nurses, and frontline health workers in hard hit maternal and neonatal mortality districts to protect basic services; supporting trials of pharmaceuticals to treat ambulatory COVID-19cases and avert hospitalisation; scaling up use of face-coverings to reduce contagion risk in public settings

Supplies: complete a new oxygen plant; and procuring vital equipment (700,000 gloves, 140 Oxygen Concentrators, 50,000 masks, and other medical supplies) to treat 2,500 patients

Communications: national awareness campaigns, reaching 2 million more people

Coordination: Strengthen the Emergency Operation Centre of the MOH; support coordination in 12 more districts