In August 2015, the Government of Malawi shared an update on progress in achieving its policy and program and service delivery commitments to FP2020.
Policy & Political
The Parliament of Malawi in February unanimously voted to pass a bill that bans child marriage by raising the minimum legal age of marriage from 15 to 18 years old. The Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations bill is now scheduled to be signed by the president, according to Reuters.
Malawi has one of the world’s highest rates of child marriage, with one in two girls being married before the age of 18. Child marriage limits girls from leading healthy, productive and full lives, blocking their ability to pursue educational and other opportunities, as well as increasing the risk of maternal death or serious childbirth injuries.
While seen as a historic step forward by the government and countless advocatesfor the rights of girls and women in Malawi, the law fails to address a legal loophole that allows girls younger than 18 years old to marry with parental consent. According to advocates, eliminating this exception, in addition to addressing poverty and harmful traditional practices, such s early sexual initiations, are critical in reducing child marriage and realizing the law’s desired effects.
Program Service & Delivery
- The newly developed stand-alone Youth Friendly Health Service Strategy was endorsed for dissemination and implementation by the Senior Management Committee in the Ministry of Health on Aug. 3, 2015 (scheduled to launch August 2015).
- About 159 of 300 targeted private clinics have personnel trained in the provision of long acting and reversible contraception throughout the country.
- The Government of Malawi has conducted the annual national quantification exercise for all health commodities including family planning commodities since 2013 and a budget proposition was formalized for 2014/15 financial year.
- The Government of Malawi reports significant progress in its national LMIS. The average monthly reporting rates by health facilities has increased from about 55% in 2013 to about 90% in 2015. Moreover, the quality of data reported by health facility has improved. This improvement has increased the reliability of the national forecast, supply planning and related supply chain decisions for the family planning program.
The Government of Malawi has also engaged in several activities to increase community participation in family planning services.
- The Ministry of Health developed and endorsed a Health Promotion Policy where advocacy on increased community participation, including family planning, is mainstreamed through different local structures including the Traditional Chiefs Committee, Police Victim Support Units and Community Action Groups (CAG). The Ministry of Health appeals for more resources to orient councilors and chairpersons of District Health Councils in all 28 districts in monitoring and supervising all structures in mainstreaming family planning.
- The Ministry of Health through UNFPA has identified funds from the RMNCH Trust Funds to advocate with Ward Councilors, Chiefs, Church Leaders, Members of Parliament and village Maternal and Neonatal Counselors on issues of family planning in 13 of 28 administrative districts in Malawi. The advocacy is planned to take place from September to November2015.
- In 2013, Ministry of Health through Support for USAID’s Support for Service Delivery Communication, launched the nation-wide, multi-channel and multi-level 'Moyo ndi Mpamba' (Life is Precious) health promotion campaign with key family planning messages.