The social sectors of developing countries are often not high enough due to various criteria, for instance, economic, political, and other factors that hamper progress in specific areas. In Malawi, the state in which agriculture prevails over other fields, the topical issues of education and medicine are raised periodically since these areas largely reflect the well-being of the country. Despite some attempts to improve the current situation in Malawi, these sectors do not have a sufficiently high level of development, and statistical indicators prove this assumption. The socio-demographic characteristics of the state are also not favorable for promoting these areas and implementing successful modernization plans. This work aims to describe contemporary health and education indicators in Malawi. Addressing these topics can help find the most significant gaps and design relevant intervention strategies to improve development indicators and promote the country to strengthen its international authority. Education and health in Malawi are the sectors in which significant problems are observed, and compared with some other African countries, in this state, real changes are needed. Therefore, an appropriate analysis may provide an opportunity to assess growth prospects and evaluate the considered areas comprehensively.
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Education in Malawi
The educational system of Malawi is underdeveloped due to the peculiarities of the country’s economic course and, in particular, its policy of promoting agriculture as a key industry. In this regard, as Thomas notes, both human and financial resources are limited in order to implement effective changes (p. 86). Primary schools are significantly more numerous than secondary ones (4,500 and 1,008, respectively), which indicates the lack of comprehensive education (Thomas, p. 86). Private schools and universities also exist in Malawi, although they are not available to many low-income families. The education management system is structured, and the central control apparatus regulates the work of individual areas. Underdeveloped industries and a focus on agriculture are key social factors explaining the small percentage of senior students in the country. Working immediately after finishing elementary school is a natural phenomenon, and this trend affects the level of education of the population negatively.
To enhance literacy, special courses are offered for state citizens. However, according to Thomas, this indicator remains low, and among young people from 15 to 24, it varies from 70% (females) to 74.3% (males) (p. 89). As a result, the national education system cannot provide sufficient education for the population so that the country could count on the status of a developed state. Being a British colony until 1964, Malawi became a democratic state, but addressing the theme of education is still relevant (Thomas, p. 89). For instance, in comparison with neighboring Zambia and Tanzania, Malawi has the highest costs in this industry, but literacy rates among young people and adults are the lowest. At the same time, public spending on education is higher than in the two aforementioned countries (4%) (Thomas, p. 96). Therefore, the features of social development are the key factors determining the existing problems in the sector in question.
One of the reasons for the low literacy rate in the country is the high risk of early births. According to the study conducted by Yaya et al., of 7.572 females, 46.5% were in the vulnerable group from 15 to 19 (e000085). Such indicators confirm that for addressing issues in education, additional attention needs to be paid to the problems of social education and health literacy. Work in these areas can contribute to improving education in Malawi and help the local government to increase the development parameters of this developing country, thereby enhancing its position in the South Africa region.
Health in Malawi
As in education, in Malawi’s healthcare, there is a shortage of specialists. According to Kirigia et al., in 2015, there were only 215 physicians in the country, which was an extremely low figure for 606 medical facilities (p. 126). Health costs are $30 per person and compared with neighboring Zambia and Tanzania, this parameter is lower (Kirigia et al, p. 126). Another important criterion that shows the underdevelopment of the local healthcare system is the life expectancy of the population. Kirigia et al. argue that in Malawi, it is 63.6, while in such developed countries as the USA, France, Sweden, or Japan, these indicators are 70, 72, 78, and 79, respectively (p. 126). The low rate of life expectancy is a good reason to make the necessary adjustments to the system of providing medical services to the population and revising preventive and therapeutic practices.
Infant mortality issues are a pressing issue in Malawian society. Scott et al. conduct their study aimed at describing fertility problems in the country, and, according to the statistical outcomes obtained, “the infant mortality rate in 2010 was 66 per 1000 live births” (e019380). Despite the fact that, in the neighboring countries of the South African region, this parameter is higher, access to highly qualified prenatal and postnatal care is not open. Therefore, as Scott et al. state, women are at risk of various infections during and after childbirth (e019380). Since in many families, the practice of childbirth planning is not carried out, the awareness of the local population about protection methods is low, which affects the health of children and leads to dangerous consequences.
Existing health problems are caused not only by society but also by managerial challenges. According to Kirigia et al., in Malawi, there is no unified health research strategy (p. 126). This gap, in turn, inhibits the development of medicine and prevents its natural improvement by searching for innovations and introducing essential test practices. As a result, the authors note that the responsible authorities do not conduct the required studies and do not develop methods for improving local medicine (Kirigia et al, p. 126). In case relevant agencies appear and take up their immediate responsibilities, it is likely that the health situation in the state will change for the better due to the application of innovative treatment and care practices. Nevertheless, today, no studies are conducted at the national level, which complicates assessing the problem spectrum and impedes progress in the Malawian healthcare system.
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The analysis of the education and health sectors in Malawi provides an opportunity to assess key gaps in government plans and identify potential development paths in these areas. To improve the literacy of the population, more specialists should be involved, and freer access to education is to be promoted. In the healthcare sector, staff shortage is also a critical issue, and special attention needs to be paid to preventive practices in order to reduce the infant mortality rate. In addition, the promotion of health research is necessary at the national level in order to introduce relevant innovations in medicine. These measures can be effective for changing the country’s status for the better and solving its pressing problems.
- Kirigia, Joses Muthuri, et al. “National Health Research System in Malawi: Dead, Moribund, Tepid or Flourishing?” BMC Health Services Research, vol. 15, no. 1, 2015, p. 126.
- Scott, Molly, et al. “Family Networks and Infant Health Promotion: A Mixed-Methods Evaluation from a Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial in Rural Malawi.” BMJ Open, vol. 8, no. 6, 2018, p. e019380.
- Thomas, Kafumbu Fatsani. “An Analysis of the Education Decentralization Policy in Malawi.” International Journal of Educational Reform, vol. 26, no. 1, 2017, pp. 85-101.
- Yaya, Sanni, et al. “Wealth, Education and Urban-Rural Inequality and Maternal Healthcare Service Usage in Malawi.” BMJ Global Health, vol. 1, no. 2, 2016, p. e000085.