United Kingdom development arm, Department for International Development (DfID), has announced that it will provided K1.7 billion (about 1.8 million British pound) to Unicef to strengthen Malawi’s capacity to prevent a Covid-19 outbreak in the country.
Although Malawi does not have confirmed cases at the moment, so far the Covid-19 outbreak has affected 197 countries with over 18 000 deaths, and over 400 000 confirmed cases as of March 26 this year, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
There are 1 808 confirmed cases in Africa across 39 countries. Malawi’s neighbors, Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania all have reported cases.
In a statement issued yesterday, DfID said with this funding, Unicef will continue supporting the Ministry of Health to improve airport and border screening capacity; train health workers to respond to a potential outbreak.
The funds will also help equip emergency treatment units with medical and intensive care supplies as well as water and sanitation facilities so that they are ready to treat potential cases.
DfID has also helped set up the testing facility in the national Public Health laboratory in Lilongwe.
Head of DfID in Malawi, David Beer said in the statement: “We recognise the need to act fast, to help Malawi prepare for the threat of COVID-19. This is why we have provided £1.8m with immediate effect, to set up emergency treatment units and rapid response teams, and critically, to boost public health messaging. I call on all Malawians to follow official advice, especially on handwashing and social distancing.”
While Secretary for Health and Population Dan Namarika said in the absence of effective treatment, raising awareness of the risk factors for Coronavirus infection and the protective measures individuals and communities can take, is the only way to reduce human infection.
“Thanks to DfID through Unicef for this very timely support to the Malawi Government,” he said.
Unicef Malawi representative Rudolf Schwenk said so far there is no vaccine or specific antiviral medicine to treat this virus so the best course of action is to avoid infection.
“Unicef is supporting the Ministry of Health and Population to develop contingency plans and communication materials. The support from DfID is timely and will assist our ongoing collaborative effort with the Government of Malawi to prevent the virus from spreading in Malawi,” he said.
Misinformation has cropped up all over the world including in Malawi since Covid-19 began spreading. DfID hopes the funding will also help ensure that citizens will receive accurate, reliable information about what to do to protect themselves.
In addition to the UK’s support of 1.8 million British pound to Malawi, the UK has announced up to 241 million British pound of funding to support the global efforts to combat the outbreak of Covid-19.