Publication Date: 21/05/2020
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus has had a devastating impact globally. While WHO declared COVID-19 as a world pandemic on 30th January 2020, Malawi declared a state of disaster on 20th March 2020 and this was followed with some restrictions including closure of schools. While countries in Southern Africa have imposed lockdowns and other restrictions, as of 7th May Malawi was yet to go on lockdown, which was stopped through a court decision. Malawi is in an election period for fresh presidential elections and with the campaign period officially opened, observance of COVID-19 safety and preventive measures will be a challenge.
Global research findings have shown that COVID-19 has significant social and economic impact on people, especially those living in poverty-stricken countries. Malawi is at more risk due to other significant health challenges that would exacerbate the severity of COVID-19, such as high levels of malnutrition, malaria, anemia, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis.
For women and girls, the impacts can be much higher due to their social responsibilities as primary caregivers, coupled with childcare and nutrition and farm work. Further a majority of health care workers are female (especially nurses). In Malawi, the nursing profession is dominated by female nurses of which 91.5% are professional and 84.7% are associates . With the Covid 19 response, there is also an increased risk of exposure to the infection for health care workers, particularly if health care services are not provided with adequate Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).