Medical Supplies: an Essential Component in Strengthening Health Systems in Malawi

An EGPAF-led prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) training in Malawi.

James Pursey/EGPAF

The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), with support from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), hosted a handover ceremony to recognize the donation of essential medical supplies and furniture to 85 health facilities across seven districts in Malawi. The contribution of these provisions is one component of a five-year service delivery, quality improvement, and health systems strengthening project led by EGPAF. The project supports HIV services along with key health care offerings, such as maternal and child health services.

Under this project, EGPAF plans to test 1.2 million people for HIV and enroll 72,000 HIV-positive people on life-long antiretroviral (ARV) treatment for HIV. The program also aims to avert new HIV infections for at least 4,500 infants through provision of ARVs to 25,000 HIV-positive pregnant women.

The event was held on August 30, 2013 at Ntchisi District Hospital. Deputy Minister of Health Hon. Agnes Mandevu Chatipwa, and Member of Parliament and Deputy Minister of Agriculture Hon. Ulemu Chilapondwa attended the event, along with other senior officials. Representatives from Ntchisi District and the CDC were also in attendance. Chatipwa thanked EGPAF for the donations, and encouraged health care workers to maintain the equipment so it will benefit multiple communities for several years.

The donated supplies – totaling 46 million Malawian Kwacha– were secured after EGPAF conducted a baseline assessment that showed gaps in medical supplies and furniture. District Health Officer for Ntchisi Dr. Webster Chirambo said, “This provision of medical supplies and furniture has come at the right time because we have not been able to buy furniture due to financial constraints and budget limitations … we are not taking this for granted.”

Speaking on behalf of EGPAF, Country Director Nicole Buono thanked the U.S. government, PEPFAR, CDC and the Malawian Ministry of Health for the partnership, noting that EGPAF worked across multiple levels of the health system in Malawi to implement this project. “Our philosophy is not to support parallel systems of health care, but to reinforce the existing system,” she said.

The supplies – which include stethoscopes, scales, stopwatches for HIV testing, examination couches, and desks –are intended to support health care workers in their efforts to care for patients effectively as well as to bolster overall quality of health care services and reduce the spread of infection.

This event was also covered by Nyasa Times and Voice of America.

You can learn more about EGPAF’s work in Malawi here.

Samantha White is a Global Health Corps Fellow working with EGPAF in Malawi.