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.


Malawi had experienced heavy rain since the start of March. Coupled with Cyclone Idai, flooding has now affected the majority of Nsanje district in southern Malawi, with around 16,000 households affected.

While we haven't witnessed any challenges with food availability, there has been huge destruction of agricultural crops and animals. It’s estimated that 50  percent  of the area’s crops might have been lost.

  • An MSF team of 18 people is supporting the health ministry to cover the needs of an estimated 18,000 people in Makhanga on the eastern bank of the Shire river, with health, sanitation and non-food-item supplies.
  • So far, our teams have not detected acute medical needs, but we’re concerned about the many people on chronic medication, including for HIV and TB treatment.
  • In Makhanga health centre, ministry of health staff have still not returned to work, so MSF continues to ensure primary healthcare, HIV services and basic disease surveillance continues at around 150 consultations per day. 
  • We have now reached more than 2,000 households in Makhanga with hygiene kits, which includes buckets, cups and soap.


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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