Despite Covid-19 recovery rate having dropped in recent weeks to 74 percent, comparisons with countries within the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) show that Malawi is making steady progress.
The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Covid-19 dashboard shows that neighbouring Tanzania has 13.1 percent recoveries, Zambia 96.4 percent, Mozambique 85.1 percent, Lesotho 47.1 percent, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) 72.2 percent and South Africa 91.2 percent.
The dashboard further indicates that Zimbabwe has 80.4 percent recoveries, Mauritius 66.3 percent, Angola 93.2 percent, Namibia 89.1 percent, Botswana 89.2 percent, Madagascar 97.7 percent, Seychelles 97.1 percent and Comoros 96.1 percent.
Kenya, which is experiencing its fourth wave of the pandemic, has reported 91.9 percent recoveries.
But the statistics have received mixed reactions from public health experts and health rights activists, who say the numbers carry different meanings.
In an interview on Monday, epidemiologist Dr Titus Divala argued that the true recovery rate for Malawi is likely to be over 95 percent and that the gap in between means the national response is failing to track each case and document their recovery.
He said: “My basis is that in the absence of any intervention, over 95 percent of people who get Covid-19 recover, even in our example. It is only five percent who really get very sick and need hospitalisation.
“I, therefore, urge people not to use the recovery rate figure as a reference point or cause for concern but rather focus on, out of the number of people who actually get hospitalised, how many die and how many recover.”
Divala said such would give a true reflection of the severity of the disease and the quality of care.
In a separate interview, Health and Rights Education Programme executive director Maziko Matemba said while the country is making progress on recoveries, there are some lessons that need to be learnt from countries doing much better.
“We need to check the level of their health system capacity to handle Covid-19 once one is admitted to the treatment centres, capacity matters as in availability of adequate human resource and availability of early diagnosis and treatment,” he said.
Kamuzu University of Health Sciences professor of epidemiology Adamson Muula said Malawi’s recovery rate is lower than the real numbers because fewer people who test positive the first time return for a retest.
“If an individual does not come back for a retest, he or she will always remain as positive in the recording system of the Ministry of Health, although we all know that such a person, if they did not die, should have recovered by now,” he said.
According to statistics from the Public Health Institute of Malawi, as of Sunday a total of 43 020 recoveries were reported with 58 083 cumulative confirmed case and 1 968 deaths.