Access to healthcare

Although national health services in Malawi are theoretically free of charge at the point of delivery, they are mostly unreliable and grossly inadequate. For those living in rural areas, the nearest health centre can be up to ten kilometres away along rough dirt roads, staffed by minimally trained health surveillance assistants and often lacking in even the most basic drugs and medical supplies. Long journeys are particularly hazardous at night in the large swathes of the country with no electricity and patients attending these centres after dark, including women in labour, are routinely expected to

provide their own candles or kerosene lamps for use when they arrive.

Latest estimates suggest that there are approximately 600 fully qualified doctors in Malawi, serving a population of around 17 million (about one doctor for every 28,000 people). This results in the district hospitals being mainly staffed by clinical officers, medical assistants and nurses. As wards in the four central hospitals are similarly understaffed, overcrowded and insufficiently equipped, many of the more serious or complex medical conditions simply cannot be diagnosed or treated and palliative care is extremely limited.

What you could do to help

A donation of £155 would cover the cost of a bespoke wheelchair for a disabled child and their travelling expenses to the workshop in Blantyre, which is the only facility in the entire country currently providing this service.

The potentially fatal combination of food poverty and nutrient deficiencies weakens the immune systems of the poorest families and has resulted in widespread malnutrition. Save the Children estimates that one child in eight dies before their fifth birthday in Malawi and half of all children under the age of five have stunted development. The majority of child deaths are due to preventable diseases, primarily malaria and pneumonia.

Around a million Malawians are thought to be HIV positive and AIDS is the leading cause of death in adults, leaving many parents unable to work and over 500,000 orphans living with their grandparents or struggling to support themselves in particularly vulnerable child-headed households.

As Malawi has few natural resources, the economy is largely agricultural. Around 85% of the population live in rural areas and over 40% live on less than $1 a day.

Health Passports are issued to all children at birth and used to record their medical history and growth charts.


The staple food in Malawi is nsima, a thick dough made from maize flour and boiling water. It is cheap and filling, but has little nutritional value.


Charitable status

ChildCare Malawi is unable to register with the Charity Commission because our annual income is less than £5,000. However, we are registered as
a Small Charity with HMRC, which entitles us to claim Gift Aid on eligible donations.



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Picture credits

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their owners and must not be used for any reason without prior written authorisation.

Top left and centre right

© jamesdeanphoto

Centre left © Christin Tröger.

Bottom centre, bottom left and bottom right © Donna Murray Photography.



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Malawi is currently ranked 159 out of 179 countries in Save the Children’s Mother’s Index, based on five key indicators: the lifetime risk of maternal death; children’s well-being, measured by their under-five mortality rate; educational status, measured by children’s expected years of schooling; economic status, measured by gross national income per capita; and political status, measured by women’s participation in national government.