The year 2021 has been a period of continued global insecurity fueled by Covid-19. We are now in our third year of the pandemic and learning to live with Covid-19 still seems a long way off for much of the globe. With only 4.5% of the population fully immunized, levels of protection remain very low in Malawi. It is, however, hopefully a sign of relief that our global health experts are beginning to indicate that we may see a light at the end of the tunnel. The wider and long-term impact of the pandemic on women, adolescent girls and young people, however, should not be underestimated. It has profoundly affected the economy, livelihoods and social life.
I am proud to say that UNFPA and our partners in Malawi have shown remarkable flexibility and resilience in living with Covid-19. There has inevitably been some impact on our programming, but after a period of adjustment, 2021 has seen a return to full program delivery. Our results in 2021 highlight the persistent challenges of sustaining gains in sexual and reproductive health and rights for women, adolescent girls and youth in the face of limited public resources allocated to the health sector and ongoing instability during the threat of a pandemic.
All of our programs have incorporated Covid-19 prevention measures that have mitigated contagion. Equally important, it has also helped overcome fears that facilities such as health centers could be hotspots for the spread of the virus. With these measures in place, our support for the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls continues to have an impact. We have also expanded safe spaces programs to Dedza, Ntchinji and Lilongwe districts in 2021. These provide opportunities for girls and young women to discuss issues affecting decisions about their bodies and their lives. Key to the agenda of these spaces is to address sexual and gender-based violence, highlight issues related to sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender inequality. Girls who participate in these safe spaces create networks of mutual support so they can lead change and collectively respond to a wide range of challenges.
Support for safe childbirth and fistula repair, as well as youth empowerment programs to provide better opportunities for vulnerable adolescent girls and health system strengthening and referral programs are also showing strong results. In 2022, a new dynamic period for UNFPA will begin with the introduction of a new corporate strategic plan for the period 2022-2025. The overarching goal of this plan is to accelerate three transformative results: accelerating the achievement of ending unmet need for family planning, ending preventable maternal deaths; and the last ending gender-based violence and harmful practices.
UNFPA Malawi will accelerate the achievement of our key results through innovative strategies. We will also reinforce the strategic focus on leaving no one behind and the continued urgency to reverse gender inequality and discrimination against women. To ensure that the country program continues to be context-driven, we have concluded an in-depth review of our strategies that will accelerate the achievement of the three transformative results. This has helped to ensure that our programming is fully aligned with the agenda outlined in Malawi 2063 and the 10-year implementation plan development goals, particularly those on universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Won Young Hong Resident Representative UNFPA Malawi
OUR KEY RESULTS IN 2021
- 360,114 additional users of modern family planning methods.
- 1,435,040 adolescents and young people benefited from sexual and reproductive health and rights services.
- 248 women living with obstetric fistula received treatment.
- 85 percent of health facilities in UNFPA-targeted districts now provide emergency obstetric care.
- 1,325,629 couple-years of protection against users of all modern family planning methods in 2021.
- Approximately 18,850 maternal deaths averted.
- Antenatal care visits between week 0 and week 12 increased by 14%, from 17,716 to 20,757.
- 68,960 women and girls accessed services through safe spaces, including sexual and reproductive health, psychosocial support and counseling for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.
- 23,640 women and girls participate in mentoring programs in safe spaces.
- 709 child marriages were monitored, leading to the annulment of 60% of them.
- 1,945 vulnerable girls referred from safe spaces to support services.
- 841,000 young people received different types of youth-friendly health services, including information on family planning and HIV prevention.
- 28 district development plans used census data and baseline data for the new round of development plans.
- The Malawi Data Dissemination Platform has been launched and integrates all key population-related survey data into an online platform and mobile devices for the first time.
- 32 district level and 193 ward level reports were published with analysis of local level statistics.