Malawi development challenges: Increasing population, high fertility rate

Increasing population and high fertility rate remain development challenges for Malawi and as such the country needs to move its successes to scale in order to address these challenges.

President Mrs. Joyce Banda made the remarks Wednesday at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe after the Presidential consultation on Initiative on Maternal Health and Safe Motherhood.

The Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health, lead by Mary Robinson is in the country on reproductive health and safe motherhood engagements.

Currently, Malawi’s fertility rate stands at 5.7 births per woman.

Dr Mary Robinson with President Joyce Banda at Kamuzu Palace – Photo credit: Lisa Vintulla/Mana

President Banda said Malawi needs to do more in rolling out family planning services in order to reach out to as many people as possible with such services.

“Increasing population and the considerably high fertility rate remains a development challenge and this morning’s discussions have shown that we must do more to make family planning a critical pillar of our maternal health programmes.

That must begin with our commitment to reaching out to women that would want to plan their families but do not have means to do so,” she said.

She said despite the country facing such a challenge, it is pleasing to note that Malawi’s health indicators are largely getting better as shown by the decline in maternal mortality and under five mortality rates and an increase in contraceptive rate.

“We have increased our contraceptive rate to 42 per cent, we are a model country that is implementing an innovation nationwide programme of elimination of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV with interventions like Option B plus,” she said.

Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health President, Dr. Mary Robinson said she was impressed with what Malawi is doing in reproductive health and safe motherhood which she said has lead the country to reduce its maternal mortality rates.

It is expected that the team will on Thursday go on a learning visit to Senior Chief Kwataine in Ntcheu to interact with communities and appreciate the role communities are playing in advocating for safe motherhood.

Among other issues, the consultation meeting touched on the need to increase work on changing cultural and traditional practices that hinder behavior change in HIV and AIDS prevention, male involvement in safe motherhood, the need to scale up provision of infrastructure in the health sector and paying attention to girls secondary education as a strategy that can mitigate against early marriages and pregnancies.

Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health is a consortium of sixteen former heads of state, policy makers and other national leaders who advocate for expanded access to reproductive health as a breakthrough strategy for lasting development and prosperity worldwide.

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