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The rural Karonga district of Malawi has high levels of teenage pregnancies. Many women here suffer health problems in pregnancy or childbirth – and 1 in 50 women aged 15 to 49 will die from them.

Our DataStories discover the difference made by the “Reaching Mother and Child for Health” programme. Launched in 2015, it was supported by UK Aid Match funding, which included contributions from the UK Government and donations from the public.

Three main approaches to making pregnancy safer
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Ensuring access to health services and newborn care essentials

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Encouraging a behaviour change in men

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Challenging harmful practices, such as early marriage

people reached by the programme
What we did

Our partners Foundation for Community Support Services (FOCUS), Adventist Health Services (AHS) and Ministry of Health Karonga District Health Office (KDHO) have renovated health facilities, set up outreach clinics, and provided an ambulance to get women to hospital. Women in the community have trained as village savings and loans agents, so that mothers-to-be can afford clothes, food and baby baths.

168 Mothers groups have shared health information with women - from nutrition advice to the importance of hospital births with skilled medical staff. Many people still rely on traditional birth attendants, who have no formal training and may suggest unsafe approaches to inducing labour.

And 38 Men As Partners (MAP) groups have been set up. In Karonga, men are traditionally the decision makers, in the community and at home. The MAP approach educates men about the realities of pregnancy, encouraging them to embrace responsibility for the well-being of their wife and child.

In the video below, Joseph, a Safe Mother Co-ordinator at Karonga District Hospital and Samira, a farmer and local organiser explain how the programme worked.


Karonga District, northern Malawi.

Project implementation partners

Foundation for Community Support Services (FOCUS), Adventist Health Services (AHS) and Ministry of Health - Karonga District Health Office.

With funding from

Christian Aid's Christmas appeal 2014 and UK Aid Match

Explore DataStories in Malawi
Low incomes make it difficult for couples to save for childcare essentials. Find out how this project is helping.
an outreach clinic in Malawi
Preparing for the birth of a child isn’t seen as man’s work. It took a meeting with the Men as Partners group to persuade Brian Kagoma.
Brian and Flora
In Karonga, men are the traditional heads of household; William's scheme extends that responsibility to maternal and child health too.
William Zangazanga
A trusted expert can be the link to health services. Esnart, a single mother of four, sees that new mothers get the help they need.
Esnart Mwenendeka with her children
Maureen's story shows the problems faced by young women in rural Malawi. It also suggests that attitudes are starting to change.
Maureen and child in Karonga

Data on this page is from Christian Aid and the Malawi Demographics and Health Survey. The information on maternal mortality rate trends is for Malawi compared with highly indebted poorer countries (HIPCs), using information from the World Health Organisation.  

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With funding from UK Aid Match and the Department for International Development