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Recent Local and World News in Malawi – Malawi News Today
Malawi women with young children attending family planning services
Malawi has central hospitals, regional and private facilities. The public sector offers free health services and medicines, while non-government organizations offers services and medicines for fees. Private doctors offer fee-based services and medicines. Health insurance schemes have been established since 2000. The country has a pharmaceutical manufacturing industry consisting of four privately owned pharmaceutical companies. Malawi’s healthcare goal is for “promoting health, preventing, reducing and curing disease, and reducing the occurrence of premature death in the population”.
Infant mortality rates are high, and life expectancy at birth is 50.03 years. Abortion is illegal in Malawi, except to save the mother’s life. The Penal Code punishes women who seek illegal or clinical abortion with 7 years in prison, and 14 years for those perform the abortion. There is a high adult prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS, with an estimated 980,000 adults (or 9.1% of the population) living with the disease in 2015. There are approximately 27,000 deaths each year from HIV/AIDS, and over half a million children orphaned because of the disease (2015). Approximately 250 new people are infected each day, and at least 70% of Malawi’s hospital beds are occupied by HIV/AIDS patients. The high rate of infection has resulted in an estimated 5.8% of the farm labour force dying of the disease. The government spends over $120,000 each year on funerals for civil servants who die of the disease. In 2006, international superstar Madonna started Raising Malawi, a foundation that helps AIDS orphans in Malawi, and also financed a documentary about the hardships experienced by Malawian orphans, called I Am Because We Are. Raising Malawi also works with the Millennium Villages Project to improve education, health care, infrastructure and agriculture in Malawi.
There is a very high degree of risk for major infectious diseases, including bacterial and protozoal diarrhoea, hepatitis A, typhoid fever, malaria, plague, schistosomiasis, and rabies. Malawi has been making progress on decreasing child mortality and reducing the incidences of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; however, the country has been “performing dismally” on reducing maternal mortality and promoting gender equality. Female genital mutilation (FGM), while not widespread, is practiced in some local communities.
On 23 November 2016, a court in Malawi sentenced an HIV-positive man to two years in prison with forced labour after having sex with 100 women without disclosing his status. Women rights activists asked the government to review the sentence calling it too “lenient”. Some of the major health facilities in the country are Blantyre Adventist Hospital, Mwaiwathu Private Hospital, Queen Elizabeth Central, and Kamuzu Central Hospitals.