The Government of Malawi pledged to recruit and retain at least 800 more midwives in underserved areas in response to a severe shortage. However, the Government has not yet fulfilled its commitment.
A significant increase in midwives is needed, beyond the government’s commitment, to reach the WHO recommended ratio of one midwife for every 175 women of reproductive age. To achieve this, the Government of Malawi must invest in improved working conditions for midwives. In working with partners, they must also create a clear career path for the midwifery profession, and ensure increased respect and improved working conditions for midwives across the country.
WRA Malawi believes in giving a voice to communities who are the consumers of midwifery care in order for them to demand accountability from those who are entrusted in providing that care. To deliver on our promise, our 2019-2022 Strategic Plan focuses on increasing health financing for MNCH, improving support for midwives and midwifery, ensuring greater accountability of the Government of Malawi for their MNCH commitments, and driving an increased utilisation of health services by adolescents.
WRA Malawi is actively advocating for the Government of Malawi to increase the national Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (RMNCH) budget to support and retain more midwives, while holding the Government accountable.
Following the success of What Women Want, WRA Malawi is working to make women’s requests a reality, advocating for action in response to the top demands. WRA Malawi kicks off these efforts with early success – The top five demands have been incorporated into a Quality of Care Assessment toolkit for the Quality Management Directorate, Ministry of Health and Population.
Since its founding, WRASM Malawi has grown by mobilizing citizens to advocate for improved reproductive, maternal, newborn and adolescent health outcomes while demanding accountability for commitments made by decision-makers.
As part of the global What Women Want campaign, WRA Malawi mobilized 84,058 responses between 2018-2019 through a series of citizens’ hearings, finding that the demand for respectful maternity care (RMC), increased confidentiality and privacy, and improved maternal, reproductive, or general health services were among the top responses from Malawi’s women and girls.
WRA Malawi’s ongoing advocacy to the national government resulted in the ultimate hiring of over 900 midwives, a more than 25% increase in midwives hired. Efforts included a series of citizen journalist trainings and citizen hearings that raised the profile of and working conditions faced by midwives in the country, garnering national attention from the Minister of Health and the First Lady of Malawi. These initiatives, along with The Summary of a Count of Bedside Midwives in Malawi, led to WRA Malawi receiving the Certificate of Excellence in Safe Motherhood Advocacy from the Association of Malawian Midwives presented by the First lady, Her Excellency Dr. Gertrude Mutharika, and being chosen as the CSO Focal Point for FP2020.
Read the Investing in Midwifery in Malawi Impact Brief for additional information.
SAFER TOGETHER: Luseshelo Simwinga is a nurse and midwife working in Blantyre, Malawi. She shared her experiences as midwife providing care in the period of COVID-19. "I have put on a badge with the words “respect is a choice” on it. I put on this badge before every duty shift as I explain to my colleagues that they have to choose respect and provide respectful care to all pregnant women, fellow midwives and doctors regardless of their current mood, social standing, religious or economic background."
#MYEQUALITYDECLARATION: The My Equality Declaration campaign was launched in response to the cancellation of the 64th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in March 2020. Catherine Mwale of Dowa district, Malawi shows her declaration.
LEAVING A LEGACY: On 25 February, 2020 the outgoing and long servicing Board Member for WRA Malawi, Madam Lennie Kamwendo presented a modern android phone to Likangala Chapter in Zomba district to aid their story capturing and reporting. It was a great moment for the Chapter members and WRA Malawi team.
CITIZEN'S HEARING: WRA Malawi conducted citizen's hearings (community Interface meeting) at Nasawa and Mayaka Health Centres in Zomba District. Responding to women's complaints, representative of health workers said that they will convene a meeting to discuss the issues raised by women and commended WRA Malawi for offering the platform to get feedback from their clients.
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE MIDWIFE: White Ribbon Alliance Malawi supported and participated in commemoration of International Day of Midwives which took place at Matiya in Zomba district.
WHAT WOMEN WANT: WRA Malawi comes together to ask What Women Want for their maternal and reproductive health, gathering responses from women and girls all throughout the country.
RESPECTFUL MATERNITY CARE: A midwife in a local health center assists a new mother in breastfeeding.
Hester Mkwinda Nyasulu
Executive Director, WRA Malawi
Hester Mkwinda Nyasulu comes to WRA Malawi with more than 15 years of professional work and experience which includes a combination of technical expertise with passionate advocacy and organizational leadership to elevate the most vulnerable: women, orphans, people living with HIV and others whose voices too often go unheard. He brings a wealth of experience in overseeing successful start-up and implementation of public health projects, most notably in contributing to the successful bidding process for $6 million USAID funding for GOAL.
Hester is completing his PhD in Business Administration (Organizational Development) with UNICAF University and has a Master in Business Administration from Maastricht School of Management (Netherlands). Hester is a Fellow in HIV Leadership and Management with the College of Medicine, a constituent of the University of Malawi. He also serves as the Vice Board Chairperson to Future SACCO Limited and a Board Member to South Malawi Conference of Seventh Day Adventist Church.
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