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  • Kathryn Schoenberger

Strengthening Health Services in Malawi

Updated: Jan 7, 2020

This story was originally published in World Learning’s 2016 Impact Report.

In Malawi, pregnant women in rural areas lack access to quality medical care and cannot easily reach heath centers – a major contributing factor to the country’s high maternal and child mortality rate.

“When there is an emergency, the women fail to reach where they can receive proper help just because of the roads,” says Marrium Lemula, who lives in a small community in southern Malawi.

Lemula recently earned a community midwifery certificate through World Learning’s Malawi Scholarship Program and returned to her hometown where she can now help women have safer pregnancies and deliveries. Funded by USAID, the program aims to improve the country’s health services by supporting nearly 800 healthcare workers over seven years as they pursue certificates, diplomas, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in such fields as public health, nutrition, midwifery, and reproductive health and family planning.

Participants are already gaining recognition for their achievements. The Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health recently named participant Barwani Msiska one of this year’s 120 Under 40: The New Generation of Family Planning Leaders. Msiska is studying public health at Emory University, and has championed the development of programs in Malawi to improve family planning education and access to contraceptives.

Another standout is Rose Kanyangalazi, who is studying for a master’s degree in reproductive health. In addition to counseling pregnant women and their partners on HIV prevention, she is teaching other nurses at Bwaila Hospital in Lilongwe to do the same, which will help expand Malawi’s pool of skilled healthcare workers even after the program ends.

“The Malawi Scholarship Program will assist me to mentor other new nurses better because I’m now equipped with knowledge and skills in reproductive health,” she says.

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