COVID-19 Research: Malawi report

Publication language
Date published
05 Jul 2023
Research, reports and studies
Concern Worldwide

Malawi’s population of 17.6 million is highly susceptible to COVID-19, especially its older population; (5% are aged 60+). HIV prevalence is at 9.2 %, while additional non-communicable diseases including diabetes, heart problems, and blood pressure make Malawian communities particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. Health system challenges, including insufficient health workers, chronic shortages of essential drugs, and basic medical equipment, means Malawi has limited capacity to deal with any increased burden on health centres, should cases continue to rise.

In response to the threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Malawi declared a State of National Disaster on 20th March 2020 and launched a National COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan on the 8th April, several days after the first cases were confirmed in the country. Early prevention responses from the government included the suspension of all formal meetings, gatherings and conferences, with the president announcing a 21-day lockdown starting Saturday 18 April, that was subsequently reversed to allow for more consultation to prevent harm to the poorest and most vulnerable of society.

At the beginning of May, the Government of Malawi, UN agencies and leading INGOs launched an Emergency Appeal that coordinated organisations’ immediate response to COVID-19, supporting the Government’s preparedness and response efforts through targeting 6.7 million people.

A global pandemic unfolds in different ways in different countries, and while immediate health impacts remain the primary focus of attention in many countries, the secondary impacts on food security, livelihoods, access to basic health services and the longer-term impacts on children’s education and development are increasingly receiving attention.

In this brief, Concern Worldwide look at how the response in Malawi has affected some of the poorest households under each of these areas in three geographic locations where Concern Worldwide works.