The United Nation s Children’s Fund (Unicef) says despite the global Covid-19 pandemic which has affected economies, health systems, education and other services, Malawi has made tremendous progress in improving access to life-saving interventions and essential services for women and children.
In a statement highlighting its 2021 work in Malawi and prospects for 2022, Unicef Malawi representative Rudolf Schwenk said the organisation has over the past 12 months supported the provision of maternal, newborn and infant health and nutrition services as well as access to education and child protection services across the country.
He said through the intervention, Malawi registered a decline in neonatal mortality rate from 35 to 26 deaths per 1 000 live births while infant mortality rate declined from 42 to 40 deaths per 1 000 live births.
It further pointed out high rate of deliveries at health facilities, which is now at 92 percent.
Schwenk said: “This was largely due to the institution of Quality Improvement Teams at all levels of health delivery systems. Additionally, stunting has declined from 37 percent to 35 percent and the minimum acceptable diet for children under five has improved from 30 percent to 39 percent.”
According to Unicef, over 600 000 children were protected from diseases such as measles and pneumonia under the routine immunisation programme in 2021.
Unicef has also played a central role in the delivery of Covid-19 vaccines and supplies, through the Covax facility and together with the World Health Organisation and other partners.
Schwenk further hinted that in collaboration with various key partners Unicef keept over 2.4 million children in school through the provision of integrated services such as water, sanitation and hygiene, nutrition, scholarships, and school furniture.
“As part of a joint UN project, Unicef constructed three girls’ hostels under the Spotlight Initiative at a total cost of approximately $1 million [about K815 million],” he said, adding that other 2021 interventions, included school renovation, construction of new classrooms, teachers’ house, library and toilets and putting over 600 000 children on government’s social cash transfer programme.
“We ended the year with the much-anticipated release of the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey [Mics] by the National Statistical Office,” Schwenk said