Supporting women's health and international development in Malawi

27 January 2011

UCL alumni and friends have supported a project to reduce maternal and child mortality and morbidity in Malawi. Gifts from UCL supporters have enabled the production of Umodzi (Together) a documentary about women’s groups in rural Malawi facilitated by MaiMwana Project, a collaboration between UCL's Centre for International Health and Development (UCL-CIHD) and the Malawi Ministry of Health. 


In rural Malawi primary and secondary care for mothers and their infants is poor because of variable service quality, high turnover of service providers, lack of drugs and supplies, and lack of ownership of health programmes by local communities. According to the DHS survey report for 2005, maternal mortality is 984 per 100,000 live births and infant mortality is 76 per 1000 live births.

The documentary explores the power of community mobilisation through women’s groups to improve mother and child health and reduce mortality in Mchinji District, rural Malawi. Women, chiefs and health workers discuss the transformations in their communities brought about by community members collaborating in over 250 women’s groups established by MaiMwana Project. Women describe how collective action has helped to improve health and reduce mortality among mothers and children directly by preventing illness and changing behaviour and indirectly by empowering community members to take control of issues that affect the health of these groups.

The MaiMwana Project's community-based strategies and partnerships are unique in scale and approach in sub-Saharan Africa. The documentary will help push maternal and child health to the top of global policy making agendas and increase public awareness of the university's work in Malawi and in six similar projects in Bangladesh, India and Nepal. UCL-CIHD and their partners in Malawi have expressed their gratitude to all who made the documentary possible by donating to the Greatest Needs and Opportunities Fund at UCL.

“Umodzi has reached academics, donors and policy makers at the highest levels as well as members of the public. It has helped us to illustrate the situation in Malawi and has resulted in greater awareness, understanding and support for the work we are doing. This would not have been possible without funding from UCL alumni and friends.”
Mikey Rosato, UCL Centre for International Health and Development

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