The Ministry of Health has embarked on a survey to determine whether Malawians are experiencing symptoms of the flu or coronavirus (Covid-19) and where additional resources may be needed in managing the pandemic.
The Covid-19 Syndromic Survey, launched in Lilongwe yesterday, is being implemented with support from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation (Egpaf).
In his presentation during the launch, Ministry of Health deputy director for the department of HIV and Aids Dr Thoko Kalua said the survey findings will provide guidance on Covid-19 interventions.
He said: “The results will give a picture of possible Covid-19 cases in an area and through this, government will be able to workout which areas need a particular response.”
According to Egpaf, the survey will run from July 20 to December 2020 to determine whether Malawians are experiencing influenza-like or Covid-19 like symptoms and where additional resources, such as testing, support for home care or referrals might be needed.
Egpaf Malawi country director Veena Sampathkumar said: “As Covid-19 may undo the gains we have made in the fight to end Aids in children and to support the Ministry of Health with a targeted response with limited resources, this survey will ensure those in most need get the protection and care they need.”
For people living with HIV, the survey will randomly select phone numbers from an existing database of people living with HIV from health facilities that the Ministry of Health and Egpaf support in Mchinji, Dedza, Ntcheu, Neno, Mwanza, Zomba, Chiradzulu, Blantyre and Thyolo districts.
Explained Sampathkumar: “Individuals called to be study participants will go through an informed consent process and only if the individual consents to participate will the nurse or patient supporter continue the survey.”
The survey will also help to determine the public’s knowledge of Covid-19, account for any deaths since the start of Covid-19 in Malawi and help government plan the national response to make sure people and communities are supported with testing, referral and care services.
Egpaf is a global leader in the fight against paediatric HIV and Aids and has reached nearly 30 million pregnant women with services to prevent transmission of HIV to their babies.