The United Kingdom (UK) Government and WaterAid UK have launched a K2 billion Deliver Life Project to improve maternal and neonatal health through better access to water, sanitation and hygiene (Wash).
The project, launched last week under the theme Deliver Wash: Deliver Life for Mothers and New Born Babies, will be implemented by WaterAid Malawi and is expected to benefit 24 000 people in Kasungu, Nkhotakota and Machinga districts.
According to a statement from the British High Commission, the project will address the poor status of water and sanitation in health centres, a situation which leads to increased home deliveries and the risk of complications or death among pregnant women by improving the conditions and safety in health facilities, especially during pregnancy and child birth.
Head of Office for UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) in Malawi, Philip Smith, said Malawi has achieved notable successes in reducing maternal and child mortality although more needs to be done.
“I am delighted that the UK is able to provide K2 billion to support the provision of better health for mothers and their babies through preventative healthcare in facilities and communities,” he said.
In her remarks, WaterAid country director Mercy Masoo said the time of giving birth is the most important for any woman.
However, she said many women do not enjoy the comfort that comes with taking a bath with clean water in a dignified shelter because most maternity wards in Malawi do not have running water.
Said Masoo: “This situation forces women to use dirty water and unsanitary places to clean themselves and their babies after birth. This puts mothers, newborn babies and healthcare workers at risk of infection. We hope that this project increases water sanitation and hygiene in all healthcare facilities in Malawi to ensure that mothers and newborns in Malawi have access to quality healthcare at the time of delivery.”
According to statistics, 80 percent of Malawi’s population live in rural areas and about three million of the country’s projected 15 million people still do not have access to water whereas about 51 percent do not have access to improved sanitation.
Recently, government introduced a standard 16.5 percent value added tax (VAT) on several things among them tap water.
Minister of Health Peter Kumpalume said what is interesting about the project is that it seeks to bring water into health facilities, among other things.
“Most of our health facilities have got access to water, but the water is not in the building, it is actually drawn and brought into the building. This project changes that in the three districts that will be implemented,” he said.