MSF is currently responding to the devastating aftermath of Cyclone Idai in Malawi.

In Malawi, where an estimated 980,000 people are living with HIV, we run projects to support efforts to combat the virus.

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International donors have withheld budget support since 2014 due to corruption scandals.

In Nsanje district, we support the severely underfunded district management team in running a fully decentralised HIV and tuberculosis (TB) programme that includes infants newly diagnosed with HIV.

We also support in providing care for patients with advanced HIV in the district hospital, and healthcare for truck drivers and sex workers.

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has worked in the country since 1986 and provides a wide range of medical care, from HIV and tuberculosis (TB) treatment to maternal health and natural disaster response.

Cyclone Idai response: March 2019

MSF is on the ground providing emergency medical assistance to people in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe affected by the damage and devastating flooding caused by Tropical Cyclone Idai.

The full scale of the disaster is still unknown, however, officials have said they expect the death toll to be in the thousands.


Extremely heavy rains in lower Shire River districts of Chikwawa and Nsanje, in Malawi’s far south, has been compounded by further rains from last week’s Cyclone Idai.

The rain has caused severe flooding in 14 of Nsanje’s 28 districts. Official figures confirm 56 deaths, 577 injured and three people missing.

  • Rivers have broken their banks leaving many houses fully submerged
  • Around 11,000 families in Nsanje have been displaced

Our teams have launched an emergency intervention in Makhanga, in the worst-affected East Bank of Nsanje area, which is only accessible by boat or helicopter.

We are supporting Makhanga health centre with supplies, cleaning, and human resources. We are also offering strengthened surveillance and referral systems, along with outreach clinics and health promotion activities in the evacuation centres.

Water and sanitation activities and distributions of non-food item kits are being planned to affected households.


Malawi: Key information   

Since the 1990s, when the HIV epidemic was at its peak in the country, Malawi has shown a lot of improvement but there remains work to be done.

According to UNAIDS, HIV prevalence dropped from an estimated 14.2 percent in 2003 to 9.2 percent in 2016.

By mid-2017, 714,691 people living with HIV were taking lifelong antiretroviral treatment.

Yet HIV remains the leading cause of death among adults in Malawi, and there are still around 28,000 new cases each year. The progress made relies heavily on international funding, and there is a critical lack of qualified health staff.

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