Malawi moves towards Universal Healthcare

Group photograph taken during the launch of Malawi Health Situation Room. Picture by Roy Nkosi, Ministry of Information

Good health is a precondition for development because only a healthy people can develop a country. Only a healthy people can fight poverty. That is why our goal as leaders is to make our country a healthy nation.

Malawi is on the path of leading global trends. We are determined to “ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages” and at all cost.

Nothing will stop us from fighting to achieve this goal. No cost, no human ill-will and no danger will stop us from making Malawi a healthy nation.

My administration believes that health is not a privilege. Good health is a right. This is the belief that drives our healthcare programme. This is the spirit that drives our political manifesto. In the next five years, we pledge to achieve universal healthcare for all Malawians.

Every Malawian must have access to good healthcare everywhere.

We will fight to achieve better healthcare that is closer to the people in every part of the country.  We plan to construct more clinics, more health centres and more hospitals. We plan to train and recruit more health workers. And we plan to equip our healthcare facilities from better to best more than ever before.

Above all, we will continue supporting and promoting health providers who serve where there are no government facilities. This is one more method for achieving universal healthcare. We have tried and trusted our methods before.

When we came to lead this country in 2014, we found health facilities run by the Christian Health Association of Malawi serving just about 200,000 people across the country. This is all they could afford. And yet, most of these facilities have been in this country since colonial times.

Now they serve over 3,000,000 people because we supported and promoted them. This is how fast we have moved towards universal healthcare coverage in the past five years.

But there is no point in going to hospitals where there are no drugs. There is no human dignity in dying in a hospital where there are no essential drugs in that hospital. That is why we have fought to improve availability of drugs in our hospitals.

In 2014, we found drug availability in our hospitals at 30 per cent. Now we have improved drug availability in our hospitals to 73 per cent.

In five more years, at the speed we are going, expect more millions and millions of people accessing good healthcare in every community, every village, every town, every city, everywhere. We will leave no one behind. We need every Malawian to be a healthy citizen. And together, we are taking Malawi forward. Together, we are taking Malawi from poverty to prosperity.

Every Malawian must be proud that we have made on the global stage unprecedented progress in healthcare. Malawi is now one of the best leading countries in healthcare progress. This is a cause for national pride.

In the last five years, the number of people with HIV has continued to decline very significantly. Maternal deaths have drastically decreased. And our life expectancy has risen from 37 years to 63 years in the recent past.

This progress has been possible because we are using public resources to invest in improving the quality of life. Possible because of the doctors who never sleep, the nurses who are always on our bedside and health surveillance workers who visit every home in our villages to check on our health. I want to thank you all the health workers for the wonderful work you do in this country.

Let us learn to be proud of our achievements as a nation.

We are a Government that found no money. Today, we have improved the economy. We can buy medicine for the people. We can fund elections with our own resources.

We are opening childcare centres with our resources in pre-school education. This is what we call sukulu za mmera mpoyamba because we are building a solid foundation for this nation.

We are putting money where it matters most. We are using public resources to change lives and improve the quality of life.

It is important to bear in mind that we need to be a healthy people to drive this nation forward. And we need to be innovative in our methods in order to sustain our achievements. We have to do things unusual.

One of the innovations we have just implemented and launched is the Health Situation Room. This innovation will improve the healthcare delivery system.  As a nation, we are are embracing innovative technology in healthcare as Malawi moves into the digital generation.

Let me take this opportunity thank our doctors, our clinical officers, our nurses, and our health surveillance assistants for the work they do to keep Malawi a healthy nation. These are the healers who heal the pains of the nation.

Health and medical professionals are the comfort who bring us a smile when we are in pain; and they are the candles burning with resilience in our darkest hour.


The author, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, is the President of  the Republic of Malawi