UK supports MK2bn water and sanitation programme in Malawi rural health centres to improve maternal health

The Deliver Life Project to improve maternal and newborn health through better access to water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) has been launched in Kasungu with funding from the UK Government and WaterAid UK.

The Deliver Life Project
The Deliver Life Project

Launched under the theme “Deliver WASH: Deliver Life for Mothers and New Born Babies” the project is to be implemented by WaterAid Malawi will benefit 24,000 people in Kasungu, Nkhotakota and Machinga districts.

It will address the poor status of water and sanitation in health centres, which leads to increased home deliveries and the risk of complications or even death among pregnant women. It will improve the conditions and safety in health facilities, especially during pregnancy and child birth.

The project recognises the importance of preventive health and improving health care in facilties and communities by taking simple steps that are known to be effective in preventing disease, such as handwashing and safe disposal of waste.

Head of Office for DFID in Malawi, Philip Smith, said: “Malawi has achieved notable successes in reducing maternal and child mortality but clearly more needs to be done. I am delighted that the UK is able to provide MK2bn to support the provision of better health for mothers and their babies through preventative health care in facilities and communities’’

Country Director for Water Aid, Mrs. Mercy Masoo,  said: “The time of giving birth is the most important for any woman. However, a lot of women do not enjoy the comfort that comes with taking a bath with clean water in a dignified shelter because most maternity wards in Malawi do not have running water.

“This situation forces women to use dirty water and unsanitary places to clean themselves and their babies after birth. This puts mothers, new born babies and health care workers at risk of infection. We hope that this project increases water sanitation and hygiene in all health care facilities in Malawi to ensure that mothers and new borns in Malawi have access to quality health care at the time of delivery.”

The UK has provided £19.5m to support improved access to water, sanitation and hygiene since 2013, reaching over 1 million people in underserved communities.

80% of Malawi’s population live in rural areas. About 3 million of Malawi’s projected 15million people still don’t have access to safe water and about 51% do not have access to improved sanitation.

Studies show that lack of safe water, poor sanitation and hygiene are some of the major contributors to maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality

In rural Malawi, about 25% of women often give birth at home where access to safe water sources remains a challenge.

Malawi has an exceptionally high maternal mortality ratio (MMR) at 675 deaths/100,000 live births and infant mortality ratio (IMR) of 79 deaths/100,000 live births. On average 10 women day everyday in childbirth.

UK Aid’s family planning programme (£25m)  is providing access to modern family planning methods and reproductive health education to the young, poor and those living in remote areas.

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