The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented crisis throughout the world that requires extraordinary measures.
The United Nations in Malawi acknowledges the wide-ranging preparedness and response measures announced and currently under implementation by the Government of Malawi since the declaration of a state of disaster on 20 March 2020. The UN encourages everyone in Malawi to observe the recommended measures for prevention and containment of the pandemic.
The UN is providing decisive and coordinated support to Government efforts, together with development partners and non-government organizations, to strengthen the ability of Malawian institutions to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and ensure that no one is left behind.
Technical advice provided by WHO has been critical to the design of Malawi’s national COVID-19 health sector plan, including establishing laboratory testing capacity and training public health specialists.
UNICEF has focused on buying medical supplies and equipment, as well as improving the water and sanitation infrastructure, to support the ability of Government and the humanitarian community to respond. WFP and FAO are seeking to ensure that food and necessary supplies are available and can reach even those most in need.
UNFPA is working on uninterrupted services for sexual and reproductive health, particularly maternal and new-born health care. UNICEF, WFP, UNFPA and UNESCO are collaborating to support adaptation of the education system, including with distance learning tools. Preventing major economic and social setbacks due to the pandemic has been core to the work of WFP, UNICEF, ILO and UNDP. These agencies are expanding temporary cash transfers and initiating measures to help protect jobs, businesses and incomes.
In parallel, the UN is supporting data collection to ensure fact-based information, as well as sensitization campaigns to counter false beliefs and misinformation. UNICEF has helped Malawi to develop guidelines for schools and engage with Paramount Chiefs to distribute information. UNDP has supported political parties, through the Centre for Multiparty Democracy, to promote a better understanding of the impact of the virus and how to prevent its spread.
Protection of the most vulnerable population groups and prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse, remain central to the work of UN Women, UNICEF, UNAIDS, ILO, IOM, UNHCR, and UNFPA. This includes support to refugees in camps, migrants at the borders, persons living with HIV/AIDS, persons living with disabilities, persons with albinism, single-headed households, the elderly, and those living in extreme poverty.
The UN calls on everyone in Malawi to work together to ensure that this crisis does not become a human tragedy. These are times to respect human rights across the spectrum, to enable the success of the public health response. The UN stands with the people of Malawi and encourages government authorities, civil society, academia, the private sector, trade unions, political parties, the media, traditional leaders and religious leaders to all respond with solidarity and respect, across racial, religious, gender and political lines.
Ms. Maria Jose Torres
United Nations Resident Coordinator for Malawi