President Professor, Arthur Peter Mutharika on Thursday reaffirmed his government’s commitment to reduce the number of preventable deaths in the country.
Mutharika said the country is making illustrative progress in eradicating AIDS and towards the 90-90-90 targets with more than 70 percent of people living with AIDS now know their status, over 66 percent of people living with HIV on treatment and over 59 percent people living with HIV with their viral load suppressed.
Mutharika was speaking during the official opening of the 21st Board Conference on Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) at Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe.
He said the country’s commitment of reducing preventable deaths is notable as shown by the 2015/2016 Malawi Demographic and Health Survey, which indicates maternal mortality has declined from 675 per 100,000 live births in 2010 to 439 per 100,000 live births in 2016. Infant mortality has declined from 66 to 44 per 100,000 live births and newborn mortality has declined from 31 per 1,000 live births in 2010 to 27 per 1,000 live births in 2016.
He was however taken aback by the increase in the number of teenage pregnancy rate which increased from 26 percent to 29 percent in the same period of 2015-2016 but quickly mentioned that his government has intensified the fight to protect the girl child more than ever by mentioning that the marriage age has been raised to 18 years.
“Since 2015, the prevalence of child marriages has declined from 52 percent to 46 percent in 2016, we believe we are on the right path, our goal is to empower adolescent girls and young women to become the driving force of economic and social prosperity in our communities,” he said.
He added: “As a country we will continue to set our targets high to protect our mothers, newborns, children and adolescents. Every life is precious and we need every citizen to be in good health in order to participate in our socio-economic transformation of this country.”
He appreciated the active role which the PMNCH plays he said they are strengthening multi-sectoral collaboration and country platforms, because Malawi is dealing with human challenges of a global nature, and there was a need for a collective drive to push forward the agenda for maternal and child health.
At the board meeting, PMNCH will announce that it now counts over 1000 member-organizations from around the world, all working for the progress of women’s, children’s and adolescents health to support the Sustainable Development Goals. The Partnership provides a platform for organizations to align objectives, strategies and resources, and agree on interventions.
Board Chairperson for PMNCH Graca Machel said the partnerships role complements the work and accountability processes of its individual members, enabling them to deliver more collectively than they would alone. This Partner-centric approach mobilizes, engages and empowers different implementing partners, It allows them to coordinate their actions and activities, and encourages and promotes mutual accountability.
“Our vision is to have a world in which every woman, child and adolescent in every setting realizes their rights to physical and mental health and wellbeing, has social and economic opportunities, and is able to participate fully in shaping prosperous and sustainable societies,” she said.
The PMNCH was formed in September 2005, bringing together 80 members from three organizations, which included the Partnership for Safe Motherhood and Newborn Partnership and the Child Survival Partnership, with the mandate to strengthen alignment and consensus building to support the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
Reporting by : fostina Mkandawire, Mana