UN and partners scale up Covid-19 response in Malawi

“This virus is a threat to all of humanity, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, faith, gender, age, tribe, political affiliation or other status. Despite these enormous efforts, more needs to be done to keep everyone safe from Covid-19 and help those hardest hit by the socioeconomic effects of the pandemic in Malawi,” says Maria Jose Torres, UN Resident Coordinator.

Press Release

Lilongwe

In view of the current surge in cases of Covid-19 (1 402 cases) affecting almost all districts in Malawi, time is of the essence for the newly elected Government to lead a “one country approach” to the pandemic. The United Nations and its partners, in collaboration with national authorities, stand ready to further step up efforts guided by human rights standards to fight the pandemic and protect the country’s 18 million people.

“This virus is a threat to all of humanity, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, faith, gender, age, tribe, political affiliation or other status. Despite these enormous efforts, more needs to be done to keep everyone safe from Covid-19 and help those hardest hit by the socioeconomic effects of the pandemic in Malawi,” says Maria Jose Torres, UN Resident Coordinator.

Since March, a risk communication and community engagement campaign has regularly reached more than 15 million people with support from UN and partners. Messages have been broadcast by media houses, including community radios, with the active involvement of Malawian artists, the faith community, traditional authorities, academia, Parliament, political parties and the teaching community.

To control the spread of the virus, testing, contact tracing and quarantine of contacts or suspected cases and isolation of confirmed cases have been essential. Malawi has moved from zero testing capacity to having forty-one (41) Covid-19 testing centres, which have since conducted more than 14 500 tests, thanks to support from the UN and development partners, through Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

More than 4.8 million units of essential supplies for fighting the pandemic have been mobilised, including testing kits and personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers and other frontline service providers. The UN’s support to coordinate all supplies has helped to get the supplies faster as global supplies are under much demand. A current critical shortage is oxygen for intensive care units (ICUs) in central hospitals. The UN and partners have also provided training for more than 122 000 health workers and community facilitators, who are on the frontline of the Covid-19 fight. Moreover, since June, the UN Humanitarian Corridor is operating in Malawi, bringing into the country critical relief and humanitarian personnel.

At least 26 000 people who have entered Malawi during the Covid-19 period, including returnees, have been screened for the virus at the Points of Entry and been assisted with shelter, food, protective items and onward transportation to their final destinations. Reintegration and community surveillance support in communities of return have also been provided. Six isolation and emergency treatment centres across Malawi have been set up by national authorities with support from the UN and partners.

Following closure of schools in March, an emergency education radio programme for six million primary school students and digital learning for more than 15 000 secondary school students to continue learning have been supported. Currently, the UN is supporting development of necessary guidelines for children’s safe return to schools in the coming weeks.

The UN and partners have stepped up efforts to ensure no one is left behind and jobs are protected, through a social protection scheme that stands to benefit up to 850 000 vulnerable households in urban and rural settings. Also, more than 700 community protection workers and women rights promoters are dealing with cases of violence against children, women, adolescent girls and persons with albinism. Refugees and migrants are another vulnerable group the UN is supporting in the response. The role of Malawian youth as 'change agents' in mitigating the impact of Covid-19 as well as 'building back better' is also part of the response.

The Government of Malawi has requested more than US$ 345 million through its National Prevention and Response Plan as well as the Emergency Appeal to respond to Covid-19, of which 43 per cent has been mobilized so far. Moreover, the UN has reprogrammed US$ 50.2 million of its current resources. UN pool funds have also provided a further US$2 million.

The European Union (EU), Ireland, Germany, Norway, The Global Fund, UKAid, USAID and World Bank are some of the main partners with the UN response and in support of the national efforts to contain and respond to the Covid-19 crisis. Some 28 NGOs - national and international - also work with UN agencies in the response.

Within the framework of One UN, several UN offices are supporting the response in various ways that reflect their respective mandates and specialized expertise. They include the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), International Labour Organization (ILO), International Organization for Migration (IOM), International Trade Center (ITC), United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UN Women, World Food Programme (WFP), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office (UNRCO) and World Health Organisation (WHO).

For more information, contact: Development Coordination Officer (Programme Communications and Advocacy) in the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office, Phillip Pemba, on phillip.pemba@one.un.org or +265995271671.

Media Contacts
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
Other entities involved in this initiative
World Bank
World Bank