As part of its ongoing effort to safeguard sexual and reproductive health services during the COVID-19 crisis, Ipas Malawi has made a second donation of essential health commodities to the Ministry of Health.
This donation comes in response to Malawi President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera’s recent appeal for support and declaration of a state of national disaster due to the country’s rising number of COVID-19 infections.
“The second wave of the pandemic has hit Malawi hard,” says Pansi Katenga, director of Ipas Malawi. “The health system has been stretched, our health workers are fatigued. Ipas is committed to doing all that we can to make sure health facilities have adequate provisions of abortion-related commodities and supplies, as well as personal protective equipment for workers.”
The donations were made in the Blantyre District, which Dr. Gift Kawalazira, director of health services for Blantyre District, called the epicenter of the pandemic in Malawi. He said the donated supplies and equipment “will go along way in easing the shocks that COVID-19 have had on the health system here.”
Ipas Malawi also has been working with government ministries to address sexual and gender-based violence, which has been on the increase during the pandemic. “There is a stubborn link between sexual and gender-based violence and unintended pregnancies,” says Katenga. “We have observed that hot spots for gender-based violence are also hot spots for unsafe abortion.”
In meetings with community members and through broadcasts on community radio, Ipas is encouraging anyone who has had an unsafe abortion to seek postabortion care at health centers and to report any sexual or gender-based violence to police. At the national level, Ipas is also working with partners such as the Parliamentary Women’s Caucus to advocate for stricter penalties against those who commit acts of sexual and gender-based violence and for survivors to receive speedy justice.