Find Health and Medical expertise in Malawi

Malawi has a three-tier health care system, based on a patient referral system. Primary care is mainly made up of community-based outreach, health posts, dispensaries, urban health centres and primary health centres. Primary level hospitals, with postnatal beds, outpatient services, maternity care and antenatal services, make up the remainder of the primary care level. Patients needing more sophisticated treatment are referred to secondary care, which is provided by the district hospitals in each of Malawi’s districts. These hospitals can provide the same basic services as the primary care facilities, but also have x-ray machines, ambulances, operating theatres and laboratories. The top tier of care comes from central referral hospitals located in the major urban areas. There are two at Blantyre and Zomba (Southern region), one in Lilongwe (Central) and one in Mzimba (Northern). Malawi has many pharmaceutical companies, predominantly small and medium enterprises, based in Lilongwe and Blantyre that are involved in the importation, distribution and retailing of medicines and medical supplies. Pharmaceuticals are exempt from import duty.

The underfunded and understaffed health services in Malawi are unable to meet the needs of the population, particularly outside urban areas. However, Malawi is developing a health financing strategy to help improve the funding available for health and move towards the goal of universal health coverage. Until now, the health system has been largely dependent on donor aid, which covered between 57% to 62% of total health expenditure between 2006 and 2009.

Public health care is generally free, but the cost of transportation can be prohibitive for many. A WHO report found that less than half of people in Malawi live within 5 km of some kind of health facility.

Post-2015 development agenda

The Malawi post-2015 development agenda addresses a number of challenges, including inadequate infrastructure, a shortage of drugs, ill-trained personnel and poor access to maternal health services. Other areas that have been highlighted as standing to benefit from greater attention include the number of health surveillance assistants (HSAs) available in the country, who would be able to assist rural communities in promoting health practices, and the suggested introduction of a new cadre of health care workers to function below the levels of HSAs. These would be community-based distribution agents (CBDAs), currently found in a limited capacity in some districts working as volunteers. CBDAs should be encouraged through training and incentive packages, employed in a paid capacity and dispersed throughout the country. Reproductive health services should be universally accessible, particularly given Malawi’s high rate of maternal mortality, and sexual health and counselling services should be more youth-friendly. The medicine procurement system needs to become more efficient and cost sharing should be promoted in hospitals.

Communicable diseases along with maternal, perinatal and nutritional conditions accounted for an estimated 65% of all mortality in Malawi in 2012. The prevalence of HIV in Malawi, as a percentage of people aged 15–49 years, stood at 10.3% in 2012. The prevalence of HIV peaked at around 16% in the period 1996–2000, following which it has shown a consistent rate of decline. In 2012 there were 1,564,984 reported cases of malaria. Estimated levels of mortality from malaria have seen a small overall decrease in the period 2006–12. Both the estimated incidence of and the estimated mortality (when mortality data excludes cases comorbid with HIV) from tuberculosis (TB) reduced by around half in the period 2000–13. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) accounted for an estimated 28% of all mortality in 2012. The most prevalent NCDs in Malawi are cardiovascular diseases, which accounted for 12% of total deaths across all age groups in 2012. Cancer, non-communicable variants of respiratory diseases and diabetes contributed 5%, 2% and 1% to total mortality, respectively (2012).

Government expenditure

In 2013 government expenditure on health was 4.2% of GDP. In the most recent survey, conducted between 1997 and 2010, there were two doctors, and 28 nurses and midwives per 100,000 people. Additionally, in 2010, 71% of births were attended by qualified health staff and in 2013, 88% of one-year-olds were immunised with a dose of measles. In 2014, 88% of people were using an improved drinking water source and 41% had access to adequate sanitation facilities.

Malawi was not an original signatory to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, but acceded to it in 1993 and has written the covenant into law. It includes ‘the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health’. The covenant commits signees to providing healthy and hygienic environmental conditions, controlling epidemic diseases, improving child health and facilitating access to health services without discrimination.

Health and Medical organisations in Malawi
Blantyre Adventist Hospital
Bwaila Pharmacy Ltd
C.C.K. Health Clinic & Diagnostic Centre
Capital Pharmacy
City Pharmacy Ltd
Cure Hospital
Dr A.R. Msachi's Clinic
Health Net
Kabula Pharmacy
Kamuzu Central Hospital
Lifestyle Pharmacy
Limbe Pharmacy
Livingstone Pharmacy Ltd
Mayfair Pharmacy
Medical Council of Malawi
Medmate Pharmacy
Michiru Pharmacy
Mumbwe Medical Centre
Mwaiwathu Hospital
Pharmacare Pharmacies Ltd
Pharmamed Co.
Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital
S D A Medical Laboratory
Zomba Central Hospital