UN Urges “One-Country-Approach” to Fighting Surging Covid-19 in Malawi
United Nations Resident Coordinator in Malawi, Maria Jose Torres, has urged the new government administration to lead a “one country approach” to the Corona virus pandemic in view of a surge in cases.
Torres says the UN and partners are ready to continue to, guided by human rights standards, fight the pandemic to protect the 18 million people of Malawi.
“This virus is a threat to all of humanity, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, faith, gender, age, tribe, political affiliation or other status.
“Despite these enormous efforts, more needs to be done to keep everyone safe from Covid-19 and help those hardest hit by the socioeconomic effects of the pandemic in Malawi,” says Torres.
Isolation of confirmed cases, the UN observes, have been essential to control spread of the virus and so too testing, contact tracing and quarantine of contacts or suspected cases.
UN support to coordinate supplies in the fight has helped get the supplies faster as supplies are in much demand globally.
“A current critical shortage is oxygen for intensive care units (ICUs) in central hospitals,” says Torres.
The UN and partners have also provided training for over 122,000 health workers and community facilitators, who are on the frontline of the Covid-19 fight in the country. And since June, the UN Humanitarian Corridor is operating in Malawi, bringing critical relief and humanitarian personnel.
At least 26,000 people who have entered Malawi during the Covid-19 period, including returnees, have been screened for the virus at points of entry and been assisted with shelter, food, protective items and onward transportation to their final destinations.
Reintegration and community surveillance support in communities of return have also been provided. Six isolation and emergency treatment centres across Malawi have been set up by national authorities with support from the UN and partners.
“Following closure of schools in March, an emergency education radio programme for six million primary school students and digital learning for more than 15 000 secondary school students to 2 continue learning have been supported. Currently, the UN is supporting development of necessary guidelines for children’s safe return to schools in the coming weeks.
“The UN and partners have stepped up efforts to ensure no one is left behind and jobs are protected, through a social protection scheme that stands to benefit up to 850 000 vulnerable households in urban and rural settings.
“Also, more than 700 community protection workers and women rights promoters are dealing with cases of violence against children, women, adolescent girls and persons with albinism. Refugees and migrants are another vulnerable group the UN is supporting in the response,” reads a statement issued July 3.
Malawi government has requested over US$ 345 million through its National Prevention and Response Plan as well as the Emergency Appeal to respond to Covid-19, of which 43 per cent has been mobilized.
The UN has reprogrammed US$ 50.2 million of its current resources.
Malawi has moved from zero testing capacity to having forty-one (41) Covid-19 testing centres, which have since conducted more than 14 500 tests, thanks to support from the UN and development partners, through Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC). More than 4.8 million units of essential supplies for fighting the pandemic have been mobilised, including testing kits and personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers and other frontline service providers.
Since March, a risk communication and community engagement campaign has regularly reached more than 15 million people with support from UN and partners. Messages have been broadcast by media houses, including community radios, with the active involvement of Malawian artists, the faith community, traditional authorities, academia, Parliament, political parties and the teaching community.