Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 co-chairperson Dr John Phuka says they are reviewing the National Covid-19 Preparedness and Response Plan which expired at the end of June after being launched in March.
He said briefly on Sunday: “We are currently reviewing the plan. The major component is to bring in a strong community component. But it’s still at technical level, so maybe it’s not time to disclose a lot.
“We also need to allow all the aspiration we had with the President [Lazarus Chakwera] to be taken on board. You saw we were supported strongly.”
Government developed the three-month plan to establish operational procedures for preparedness and response to Covid-19 based on risks identified by the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to prevent Covid-19 spread as well as preparedness for a timely and coordinated response in the event of Covid-19 outbreak.
Malawi had, as of Saturday, 17 deaths from 1 613 confirmed cases of Covid-19. Of these cases, 683 are imported infections, 857 are locally transmitted while 73 were still under investigation.
In an interview on Sunday, Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen) executive director George Jobe said there was need to align the plan to current trends in the fight against Covid-19.
He said at the time the plan was being initiated, authorities did not anticipate Covid-19 cases, both imported and locally transmitted, would grow as they have; hence, the need to come up with proper strategies.
Said Jobe: “The other reason why it was ending in June was to align it to the financial year. The resources could not move forward, so we needed another allocation. So, there is need to review that plan not discarding all the activities, because some may have to continue, but we really need to respond to the current situation.”
On his part, Society of Medical Doctors president Dr Victor Mithi called for evidence-based approach to the reviewed plan.
He said: “We need to design something that will incorporate all stakeholders like the community, health sector and others. From there, we can start taking some action based on informed study design conducted. We have to balance the economy, schools and health sector, for instance.
“At first, the main focus was on prevention, but now the game needs to change to curative or case management. The best approach at action stage would be involve Parliament in coming up with a Covid-19 Bill to incorporate all necessary measures.”
Mithi said the review must also incorporate support for health workers, strengthen infrastructure abilities like supplies in hospitals, and involve communities including chiefs to be custodians of Covid-19 preventive messages.
In his address to the nation on Saturday, President Lazarus Chakwera said he will soon announce a new Minister of Health and a new Principal Secretary for the ministry to start their work on Tuesday.
He said: “Together, their task will be to instil accountability and provide direction to the efforts of the task force; to publicly account for how Covid-19 resources are being used and how Covid-19 measures are being followed; to provide our brave men and women in the health sector with the personal protective equipment, medical supplies, and risk benefits indispensable to their work; to coordinate partnerships with community leaders and institutional bodies in holding a strong line of defence against the spread of the virus.”
The expired plan was based on three scenarios- when there is no Covid-19 case, when a Covid-19 case is confirmed (an imported or sporadic case) and when more people are affected by Covid-19 either as clusters or with community transmission.
On 20 March 2020, Covid-19 was declared a National Disaster in Malawi and on April 2 2020, the country registered its first three cases of coronavirus.