Speech by Minister of Health at launch of National COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan in Lilongwe

The current modeling on the potential impact of the coronavirus shows that Malawi can be hit hard by the virus and the mortality can be up to 50,000 deaths.

It is with great honour that on behalf of the State President Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika, my fellow cabinet ministers and the Malawi nation, that I preside over the official launch of the National Covid-19 Preparedness and Response Plan.

As you are aware, on 20th March, 2020, the State President declared state of disaster following the threat of the Coronavirus pandemic. There was, therefore, need to develop a response plan with a strategic objective of preventing, rapidly detecting and effectively responding to any Covid-19 outbreak, thereby reducing morbidity and mortality in the country.

The globe is at war, a war against the disease and also against misinformation and so far the globe is not winning the battle. The disease is testing the resilience of systems in almost all countries including Malawi. Unfortunately, the globe does not know how long the disease will continue to haunt the earth.

So far Malawi has run 200 samples and confirmed 8 cases (1 death) of coronavirus with local transmission. 

The current modeling on the potential impact of the coronavirus shows that Malawi can be hit hard by the virus and the mortality can be up to 50,000 deaths without necessary interventions.

The preparedness and response plan was developed as a collaborative effort and consultative process under the guidance of the Ministry of Disaster Management Affairs and Public Events, and Ministry of Health through the national cluster system, which is composed of members from government ministries, departments and agents, UN Agencies, NGO, Malawi Red Cross Society and other humanitarian actors.

Currently, after the directive from H.E, has already released MK2.4 billion which was through the health cluster plan. This money is currently being used in response to the plan. Government also appreciates the support that it has already received from its partners both local and international, private sector, both local and international and individuals. In fact, some individuals have offered their talent and skills to bring innovation into the response.

Ladies and gentlemen, several operational clusters, amongst others: Health; Inter-cluster coordination; Protection and Social Support; Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Communication; Economic Empowerment and Security and Enforcement aligned their preparedness and response interventions to this plan’s strategic objective to ensure a coordinated response to the pandemic.

The plan we are launching today is worth US$203 million MWK150 billion. So far, US$ 9.1 million (MK6.5 billion) is available, leaving a resource gap of US$ 193.7 million (MK 142.7 billion).

Honourable members of the special cabinet committee, the UN Resident Coordinator, the resource gap is evidently huge, considering that as of 7th April, 2020, the country had already registered 8 confirmed cases, with one death; and the virus may further spread to most parts of the country owing to the fact that the infected may have made contact with several people before testing positive.

However, with concerted efforts, coupled with political will, geared private sector, untiring humanitarian efforts, we can address the gap and prevent further spread of the disease.

I therefore, appeal to the donor community, humanitarian partners, the private sector, all stakeholders working in disaster risk management or health sector, the media and the general public to support the resource mobilization process and implementation of this plan.

Ladies and gentlemen, all the resource towards the implementation of the plan will be channeled to the National Disaster Appeal Fund (NDAF) account and details will be provided to all stakeholders and the general in subsequent briefings the Special Cabinet Committee on Covid-19 will be making.

Let me assure donors and the general public that the funds will be used for their intended purpose and that financial statements will be made public for transparency and accountability’s sake.

Again, let me also warn those that have ill intentions in as far as the utilization of the mobilized funds is concerned that they risk facing the wrath of the long arm of the law. Government will not shield anyone involved in any sort of malpractices towards these resources. Covid-19 is no joking matter; any culprit will be brought to book.

To the local Private Sector, this forum provides opportunity for us to manufacture locally and sell both to Malawi and internationally. The country is in need of innovations in infrastructure, surveillance, supply chain including Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), communication and many others. I therefore appeal to members of the private sector to engage the ministry which will facilitate that necessary standards and approval processes are met in a timely manner.

Ladies and gentlemen, members of the press, Covid-19 is amongst us, let us all fight the further spread of the pandemic like wounded soldiers salvaging their lives in a war-torn area.

We have seen it all, health services in developed countries are crumbling due to overwhelming demand amplified by huge cases of Covid-19. Let us all work together in preventing further spread of the virus by among others, adhering to measures put in place by the Malawi Government, with technical guidance from the Ministry of Health.

Together we will win this war! I thank you all for your attention.

Speech by
Author
Jappie Mhango
Minister of Health, Malawi Government
UN entities involved in this initiative
FAO
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
ILO
International Labor Organization
IOM
International Organization for Migration
OCHA
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
OHCHR
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
UN Women
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
UNAIDS
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
UNDP
United Nations Development Programme
UNESCO
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
UNFPA
United Nations Population Fund
UNHCR
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
UNICEF
United Nations Children’s Fund
WFP
World Food Programme
WHO
World Health Organization