- Title: MALAWI: Malawi government tries to combat hygiene-related illnesses
- Date: 20th February 2008
- Summary: VARIOUS OF A BOREHOLE VARIOUS OF A BANANA PLANTATION
- Embargoed: 6th March 2008 12:00
- Location: Malawi
- Country: Malawi
- Topics: Health,Social Services / Welfare
- Reuters ID: LVA55UTSX4L1HNAB2O9CLGM4MPE2
- Story Text: Malawi begins to address its sanitation problems as more and more people become infected with hygiene-related illnesses.
At a remote village in the Kasungu district, 185 kilometres from Malawi's capital Lilongwe, Mrs. Alice Mphande, a traditional midwife is busy with her newest patient.
Today, she is not only giving her prenatal advice but she is also teaching how to maintain proper hygiene.
"These pregnant women you see here are well aware of how important it is to be hygienic. Being villagers, I also teach them how they should conduct themselves when they use the toilet. I tell them to wash their hands with soap as soon as they come out of the toilet to avoid contracting diseases," says Mrs. Mphande.
Malawi is one of the world's poorest countries with more than half its population living on less than a dollar a day.
For many people here, poor sanitation is a real problem as they have no access to either clean water or proper drainage facilities. Food or waterborne diseases like diarrhoea and typhoid fever are some of the major infectious diseases in the country.
The government is now attempting to ease the situation. Several programmes have been set up to help teach people proper hygiene. One of them was the 'Child Health and Sanitation Week' which was held in December last year. The event saw up to 2 million women and children receive vitamin A and deworming pills, Malawi's Daily Times newspaper reported.
Another is a basic hygiene course that was offered to traditional midwives across the country earlier in November.
Mrs. Mphande was one of the traditional midwives who attended the three week course. Since then, she's become even more popular in the district.
"There are several reasons why people come to her place. The other one is that there is no health facility near her place. The other one is that, she is competent and she even assists people as far as Zambia, where we are bordering," said Izebia Phiri, a midwife at the Kasungu District Hospital.
Infant mortality is at 92 deaths for every 1000 live births in Malawi so for expecting mothers, Mrs. Mphande's lessons and prenatal care are invaluable.
"I chose to come here because am convinced she is good and the environment is good. I travel for a long distance but now I just love this place," says Maria Banda.
"When I heard about Mrs. Mphande, I did not hesitate to have my delivery here. My village is close and it is less costly when you compare it to travelling to Kasungu. Besides the surroundings here are free from diseases," adds Gertrude Nkhata, another of Mrs. Mphande's clients.
According to UNICEF, lack of access to proper sanitation is linked to the deaths of 1.5 million children each year. It's the small steps that are being taken in Malawi that will ensure that many of the country's children do not become part of these statistics.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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