Skip to main content
Mothers and babies in Karonga district

Increasing access to universal health coverage

Published on 12 December 2018

Christian Aid and its partners in Malawi implemented a three-year (2015 – 2018) UK Aid Match (UKAM) project to improve maternal, neonatal and child health outcomes, with funding from UK aid.

The project aimed to improve the health of over 27,000 vulnerable pregnant women and babies by increasing demand, access and uptake of quality maternal and neonatal care services in the Karonga district. The goal of the project was to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity in Malawi.

Data at a glance

  • A total of 69,550 people accessed health services and information:-
  • antenatal care - 8,825,
  • postnatal care - 1,712
  • family planning services- 8,620
  • growth monitoring and nutrition counselling in under-fives - 14,262
  • immunisation - 12,593
  • 5,458 people tested for HIV/AIDS 
  • 7,133 people were tested for malaria

An ambulance has strengthened referrals enabling 2,081 women from rural and hard to reach areas to access services which were only available at the district hospital. 

The project also trained over 600 community health workers including Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) and Health Surveillance Assistants (HSAs) to identify obstetric and neonatal complications in hard to reach communities and refer them to health facilities. 

The project supported the rehabilitation of 3 health facilities (Ngana, Mpata and Lupembe) in hard to reach areas in Karonga district to improve the environment for pregnant and lactating women to receive antenatal care, give birth and receive post-natal care.  

After the renovations we saw an increase in uptake of antenatal care visits and safe births using midwives at the health facilities. The solar panels installed as part of the project were vital and enabled midwives to support deliveries of babies at night. 

solar panels installed on Ngana medical facility

Solar panels installed on Ngana medical facility

Working with local leaders

The programme also worked with 5423 religious and traditional faith leaders, as well as other community members to increase demand for maternal and new-born health services.

The project involved young people to ensure they were aware of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services in the communities through youth clubs. A total of 37,958 young people (17,521 girls and 20,437 boys were reached with SRH messages. 

The young people were also trained in peer-to-peer education and family planning, in addition to being encouraged to report cases of gender-based violence to police.

Engaging community voices

Community members were able to demand their right to healthcare through scorecards and meetings to ensure the authorities provided them with quality health services. These meetings provided a platform for community members to present issues affecting them as well as the opportunity to plan together with health workers. It also established a complaints feedback mechanism for community members to report malpractices that hindered the delivery of access to services at facility level.

For more information visit our work in Malawi