Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world with a very high maternal mortality rate. The healthcare system faces many challenges which have been put under even greater pressure by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many hospitals lack reliable access to hand washing facilities, are not able to provide hand sanitiser, and can’t afford protective equipment for healthcare workers. This means infections can be transmitted between patients, and healthcare workers may themselves contract the virus. Whole communities are at risk due to the contact made in hospital settings. Hospitals in Malawi do not have the resources to manage a large number of people falling ill with coronavirus and those who become very ill from the virus are at a high risk of losing their lives.
We have a long history of working in Malawi, and when the country announced its first cases of COVID-19 at the beginning of April we acted quickly by launching an emergency appeal to support maternity wards with infection prevention measures. Whilst pregnant women are not necessarily more susceptible to COVID-19, changes to the immune system in pregnancy can be associated with more severe disease, particularly towards the end of pregnancy, highlighting the importance of ensuring pregnant women are protected.
Our amazing supporters have raised nearly £6,000 for the appeal and we have been able to put this to use immediately via our partners at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital and the National Association of Obstetric Clinical Officers. They have been able to purchase handwashing stations, soap, paper towels, hand sanitiser and protective equipment for healthcare workers, including gowns and face masks. These supplies have been distributed at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Blantyre and six further sites around the country; Dowa, Kabudula, Chitipa, Ndirande, Thyolo and Zomba.
“Heads of the facilities which benefited from this donation greatly appreciated the donated medical items which came at a time when the facilities had limited Covid-19 infection prevention supplies. On behalf of Malawians who directly or indirectly benefited from this donation, I would like to thank Ammalife for making such a wonderful contribution to support the people of Malawi in the effort to combat Covid-19.” Moses Kumwenda, staff member at QECH
We are incredibly grateful for the amazing generosity shown by our supporters, trustees, patrons and the general public. Everyone who donated to this appeal has helped protect pregnant and postpartum women and their babies in Malawi from COVID-19.
We would also like to express our thanks to the Lady Fatemah Charitable Trust who have awarded us a grant for the second phase of our COVID-19 reponse work. This grant will support the maternity wards at QECH with additional personal protective equipment, hand hygiene supplies, laundering facilities and an oxygen concentrator.