Let me share with you areas that need attention in Malawi.
The health system in Malawi is well structured but there is need to intervene in the provision of drugs, ambulances and basic hospital consumables. All public hospitals in Malawi are free. That means government is expected to provide for the infrastructure, equipment, personnel and drugs to ensure that everyone has access to health facilities.
Health personnel are critically low and cannot manage to reach out to everyone in the community. Online provision of health services can greatly assist to reduce the burden on health personnel in Malawi. We need doctors who can offer their expertise through the internet or phone. This can be combined with medical missions to Malawi. Malawi Government is ready to support any missions that decide to go and work in Malawi by providing them with accommodation and transportation. Most equipment in Malawi hospitals are outdated and inadequate.People are dying from preventable diseases because they cannot get to the hospital in time due to lack of ambulances. If we get a few ambulances they could save a lot of lives.
Malawi Government is doing a lot to curb corruption that leads to shortage of drugs. A lot of people have been stealing drugs and selling them on the street or in private hospitals. The process to stop this malpractice is still going on. The good thing is that even the public has realized that people who sell drugs on the street are stealing from government coffers and they are either reporting them to authorities or not buying their drugs.
The teacher pupil education ratio is a matter of concern. We need to train more teachers immediately. If we can have sponsorship for teacher training colleges, that would go a long way in addressing this issue.
The second way to assist is provision of laboratories (computer and science) and libraries in secondary schools. Because of the introduction of the free primary secondary education in 1994, secondary school intake increased tremendously in the years that followed. This resulted in the mushrooming of community day secondary schools that do not have science and computer laboratories. A nation that is not learning science gets left behind in the global community. Everything is going digital. Young people need to be well trained in order to participate effectively in the global community. Providing a few laboratories would therefore be a great way of improving the education standards in Malawi.
Another area is the provision of classroom blocks, desks, and other learning materials like text books and exercise books. Many schools in the rural and urban areas have inadequate classrooms and rural schools do not have desks and students text books.
Online education can also go a long way to have more students to access higher education. Thus there would be need to build education centers in Malawi and link them to Indian or American Universities. The four public universities partnered with the University of Auburn on a project to establish an online learning and the project will result in University intake being increased significantly.
Agriculture productivity is still low in Malawi because of the use of old methods of farming. We are still using the hoe and handle to farm. And very small hectarage is under irrigating. Mechanization and irrigation can significantly boost productivity. This could mainly be through supplying tractors and other agro-implements to improve the output of smallholder farmers.
Provision of farm inputs is another way of boosting farm productivity. Government operates the farm input subsidy but it is not enough. Any efforts to compliment the system would be very helpful. It does not have to be for the whole nation, but it can be done to a few areas in Malawi.
The population of Malawi is now around nineteen million and we will soon be hitting twenty million. It is therefore important that we join hands and assist in whatever way we can, whether it means one person choosing to assist one family with agricultural inputs or school requirements or as a group choosing a project to work on.
Once again, thank you for inviting me to share with you some areas that you can help in Malawi. I do not take this for granted and I thank you all for your attention.
By Edward Yakobe Sawerengera
Ambassador of the Republic of Malawi to the United States.