Poverty & Healthcare

No plumbing or electricity

Village life is still very traditional. Most homes have a thatch roof and are made of mud (because cement and the wood needed to fire bricks are both scarce and costly).



In this video clip… Joyce gives her reasons why life expectancy in Malawi is only in the 40s.

Few houses have piped water or electricity – fewer than one in ten Malawians have access to electricity. Villagers collect water from wells or streams and cook over an open fire.

As with many African countries, common diseases in Malawi are malaria, measles, tuberculosis and pneumonia. Over the last decade, the government has worked towards providing basic healthcare for all, with emphasis on immunisation programmes, reproductive health and nutrition.

There are four main public hospitals, located in the cities of Lilongwe, Balntyre, Zomba and Mzuzu, and a network of district hospitals (as well as a number which are run by missionary societies). However, healthcare in Malawi suffers from a shortage of medical supplies and an acute lack of doctors and nurses.

  • Malawi children
  • Malawi nurses
  • AIDS sign

One in ten adults has HIV/AIDS

The country also suffers from an HIV/AIDS epidemic which has struck southern and central African countries so severely. Over 90,000 people in Malawi live with HIV/AIDS – more than one in ten adults are infected.

High rates of poverty

Three-quarters of Malawians live below the international poverty line, surviving on less than 1.25 dollars per day. As a result of endemic poverty and the many threats to health, the average life expectancy is only 47 years [WHO 2009].

In recent years, access to antiretroviral medicines has improved, but each year around 50,000 people die from the disease.

The former president of Malawi, Bakili Muluzi, helped to reduce stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS by acknowledging in 2004 that he had taken an AIDS test and declaring that his brother had died from the disease.

The health of Malawians is also threatened by the high levels of poverty in the country.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), for every doctor in Malawi, there are around 50,000 people.

Vegetables provide nutrients

As a result of food shortages, a lack of foods with the right nutrients and rising prices, SOS Children in Malawi runs small farms and training programs in agriculture.

In February 2011, Maureen and her husband (a doctor) went to visit one of the SOS Children's Villages in Malawi. Her experiences teaching agriculture can be found at her Malawi blog.