November 2, 2004
Situated in southern Africa, between Mozambique, Zambia, and Tanzania, Malawi is a least-developed country with a population of approximately 12 million.
Malawi is severely affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic: in 2003, national HIV/AIDS prevalence was one of the highest in the world, estimated at 19.8 percent of those attending antenatal clinics¹, and the National AIDS Commission estimates 1,100,000 adults and children were living with HIV/AIDS². In total, HIV/AIDS kills an estimated 86,000 adults and children every year in Malawi and has reduced life expectancy to 38.5 years³.
Malawi's health infrastructure is weak and has so far been unable to cope with this burden of chronic illness. Comprehensive HIV care and support, including HAART (Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy), is urgently needed, both to reduce individual suffering and to dispel the fear, despair and hopelessness that currently surround HIV/AIDS.
MSF: Treating HIV Positive Children in Malawi
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) runs two AIDS programs in Malawi, one in Thyolo, just south of the largest city Blantyre, and another in Chiradzulu, to the northeast of Blantyre.
The Thyolo program includes voluntary HIV testing and counselling, diagnosis and treatment of opportunistic infections, and antiretroviral (ARV) treatment, among other services. MSF works in close collaboration with the district health services and the Malamulo Seventh Day Adventist Hospital and other non-governmental organizations and community groups.
The joint program aims to fully integrate HIV/AIDS prevention, care, treatment and support services across the district (about 500,000 inhabitants) and increase access to ARVs for at least 50 percent of the estimated 50,000 people in need of treatment. HIV prevalence in Thyolo is around 20 percent.
Between January 2003 and August 2004, the program tested over 35,000 people for HIV/AIDS, of whom 11,802 (33%) tested positive. In addition, over 1000 pregnant women were tested and offered PMTCT (Preventing Mother-to-Child Transmission).
ARVs have been provided in Thyolo since April 2003. Some 1100 people are presently benefiting from antiretroviral treatment in the program, including 58 children.
¹HIV sentinel surveillance report 2003, National AIDS Commission, November 2003.
²Ministry of Health and Population, Malawi. “Treatment of AIDS, the two year plan to scale up antiretroviral therapy in Malawi.” February, 2004.
³2001 figure. United Nations Development Programme, “Human Development Report 2003”, July 2003.
© 2013 Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)