In JulMalawi project mapy 2015 the Malawian Ministry of Health (MOH) and partners celebrated the country’s achievement of Millennium Development Goal 4—Reduce Child Mortality. Despite this remarkable success, neonatal mortality remains high and Malawi is listed as having the highest PTB rate in the world (18.1/1,000 live births). LBW occurs in an additional 14% of births in the country (Situational Analysis of Newborn Health in Malawi, 2013). To catalyze action for improved newborn health the MOH launched Malawi’s Every Newborn Action Plan (ENAP) in July 2015. Major challenges in newborn care identified by the MOH include inadequate staffing and insufficient essential supplies, gaps in the quality of care at the time of birth and in newborn/KMC units, weak referral and follow-up systems after discharge to the community, and inadequate support to families during home-based care.

In Malawi Every Preemie is implementing a new and innovative approach to providing care for the preterm/LBW newborn in Balaka district, and providing targeted technical assistance to PCI’s USAID-funded food security project, Njira. The Balaka district in central Malawi was chosen as the target area because it has high poverty, malnutrition, and maternal and newborn mortality rates and is a priority area for USAID/Malawi assistance.

Technical Assistance:  In collaboration with the Balaka District Health Office, Every Preemie developed the Family-Led Care model to improve facility- and home-based care of preterm/LBW newborns, including enhancements to the existing referral system. The model is currently being rolled out in Balaka district – more information on Family-Led Care can be found here.

Every Preemie also works closely with PCI’s Njira project to enhance the preterm/LBW content of its maternal, child health and nutrition activities implemented via community networks, such as Care Groups.

Evaluation and Learning:  In partnership with the University of Malawi, College of Medicine, Every Preemie will assess if service utilization improves when families with early/small babies 1) receive specific health care information regarding home care practices, monitoring, problem recognition, and care seeking during facility childbirth and special newborn care (i.e. KMC), and after returning home with their newborn, and 2) are able to access timely health services between the household and the facility level via a functional bi-directional referral system.