Photo: Sven Kubetzko
The Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM) is in the process of developing a Health Commission that will be the technical arm of EAM in matters related to the health policy and practices in Malawi. However, EAM is focussing on the following health interventions, working with and through local churches:
HIV and AIDS intervention
HIV/AIDS is one of major problems in Malawi. In 2013 estimated 10.3% of the adults had HIV/AIDS. Approximately 6% of the young people (15-24 years of age) are infected. Nearly 66,000 young people are infected annually with HIV. Estimated 790,000 children were orphaned by AIDS in 2013. The two major modes of transmission are heterosexual intercourse and mother-to-child-transmission. EAM is involved in projects and programmes that promote HIV/AIDS prevention, maternal and new-born survival, prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT).
Malaria is endemic in 95% of Malawi. About 98% of the infections are due to Plasmodium falciparum, which is the most severe form of the human malarial species. There are at least 5 million malaria episodes per year and 4 out of 10 hospital deaths are due to malaria. It is the leading cause of morbitity and death in children under 5 in Malawi.
EAM conducts onsite trainings to promote the prevention of malaria.
Approximately 4% of all children in Malawi suffer from acute malnutrition. More than 50% of Malawian children are affected by chronic malnutrition, leading to anaemia, stunting et cetera. High food prices, food insecurity and the lack of knowledge of balanced nutrition are main causes for the malnutrition.
EAM partners with various organizations to manage acute malnutrition. But the main object is to prevent malnutrition by training farming and irrigation methods and teaching a balanced diet.
Sexual and reproductive health
Sexual and reproductive health (SRH) are interlinked and are both fundamental to the physical and emotional well-being and influence the economic and social development of Malawi. Therefore sexual and reproductive health are much more than merely the absence of infirmity, dysfunction and disease. SRH is heavily influenced by laws, politics, human rights, society, culture, economics, education and health systems and EAM intervenes on all levels to improve SRH.
Maternal and neonatal health
Maternal mortality (deaths during pregnancy or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy) in Malawi is among the highest in the world, due to delayed or no access to quality health services. The main causes of maternal death are severe bleeding, infections, eclampsia and obstructed labour and so on.
The major causes of neonatal death (deaths in the first 28 days of life) are pre-term birth, infections, asphyxia, tetanus and low birthweight. In 2013 estimated 3,400 women died during pregnancy or childbirth and 14,000 newborn babies died in their first month of life.
EAM’s approach to promote maternal and neonatal health is to mobilize the communities and healthcare facility interventions.
Hygiene and sanitation
Although hand washing is very effective for disease prevention only 4% of Malawians wash their hands with soap before preparing food, after using the toilet and so on. Approximately 10.2 million Malawians have no access to handwashing after latrine use and 47% of all schools have only inadequate toilet facilities. It is therefore tragic but not surprising that one of the main causes of death for children are diarrhoeal diseases.
EAM strives to make improvements in the area of hygiene and sanitation by promoting church and community-led initiatives.