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Deputy Minister Daud addresses Global Healthcare Conference in US

Deputy Minister of Health Halima Daud has told the 2023 Global Healthcare Conference, currently underway in the United States of America (USA), that Malawi has made significant progress in improving the health of its population.

Daud cited the average life expectancy, which has increased by 10 years over the last decade for both men and women.

This is higher than the average life expectancy on the African continent of 62 years, a situation that has been attributed mainly to improvements in adult and childhood health because of robust implementation of HIV maternal and child health lifesaving interventions.

“Mortality indicators have declined over the last decade from 444 to 349 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2010 and 2019, respectively. Under-5 mortality rate from 84.2 to 39 per 1,000 live births in 2010 and 2020, respectively, while infant mortality rate from 52.4 to 29 per 1,000 live births in 2020,” said the Deputy Minister.

Daud further stated that neonatal mortality rate from 27.9 to 19 per 1,000 live births in 2020 while mortality from HIV has decreased by greater than 50 percent since 2010 with a stable TB death rate of 14 cases per 100,000 people in 2020.

However, Daud disclosed that while communicable, maternal, and neonatal diseases continue to constitute a significant proportion of burden of disease, the burden of noncommunicable diseases is increasing. NCD’s and injuries account for over 40 percent of mortality.

“The health system is severely resource constrained, the ongoing cholera outbreak, effects of cyclone Freddy and Covid-19 continue to impinge the health system and the country at large. These stripped the ministry of its ability to respond to routine planned activities and services as it diverted major part of its budgeted resources to manage these emergencies,” she narrated.

Daud posing with Dr. Richard Hart, President of Loma Linda University Health and Adventist Health International and Dr. Priester, a cardiologist at Loma Linda Institute

Daud explained that together with donor partners, Malawi has worked hand in hand through initiation of a cluster response mechanism to minimize the morbidity and mortality resulting from the disaster and outbreak.

She said through provision of effective coordinated and timely health interventions and services to the affected population, targeted vaccination campaigns (cholera and Covid-19) have also played a major role in the control of these diseases.

The Deputy Minister further said Malawi has adopted the revised Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) strategy to develop its national surveillance system.

“As of 1st October, 2023, we have cumulatively reported 59,013 cases and 1,768 deaths due to Cholera from all the 29 districts. With a high case fatality rate of 3% which is higher than the recommended WHO standard of less than 1%. In this reporting week, the country recorded 9 cases from 3 districts. Investigations into the factors contributing to new cases continue, efforts aimed at identifying new cases and deaths at source and implementing community-level integrated actions remain crucial to sustaining the downward trends of new cases and deaths.

“Strengthening of routine surveillance systems, including event-based surveillance and community-based surveillance, to facilitate early detection and quick response to contain new outbreaks across hotspots and other high-risk districts. Enhancing critical interventions at the field level, including improving access to WASH facilities, case management, infection prevention, and control, as well as risk communication and community engagements still remain our priority management areas,” said Daud.

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