HP+ Supports Local Stewardship of National Policy in Malawi
Although Malawi has made significant progress over the last decade in battling the HIV epidemic, HIV prevalence in the population remains high, at approximately 10 percent among men and women of reproductive age (15–49 years). At the same time, a staggering 29 percent of pregnancies in Malawi are unintended. Condoms are the only method that provides dual protection against both unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
To address these health issues simultaneously, the Malawian government, with support from HP+, developed and launched its National Condom Strategy (2015-2020). The strategy, which provides a multisectoral framework for sustainable, coordinated, comprehensive condom programming based on key principles of increased equity and reduced discrimination, details the critical role that a National Condom Coordinating Committee plays in its implementation. The committee supports planning, implementation, scale-up, and monitoring and evaluation of the condom program at a national level. However, the health sector in Malawi is decentralized to the district level.
To help rollout the national strategy at the local level and establish clear roles, responsibilities, and accountability, HP+ provided support to the Malawian government to establish District Condom Coordination Committees. Throughout 2018 and 2019, HP+ helped to establish the coordinating committees in five priority districts, shared the approach with PSI to reach an additional three districts, and leveraged funding from the United Nations Population Fund through the Family Planning Association of Malawi to establish a Comprehensive Condom Program in every district.
By December 2019, these committees, tasked with supporting local implementation and oversight of the national strategy, were established in all 28 districts throughout Malawi. Now, focal persons from each district committee, supported by domestic funding, are responsible for coordinating the comprehensive condom programming agenda at the district and community level and maintaining communication with zonal and national condom stakeholders. Quarterly meetings serve as a forum through which district management and partners can discuss challenges encountered in strategy implementation and identify solutions—such as ensuring that committee engagement is multisectoral and district resources are adequately appropriated—for effective implementation.
By transferring stewardship to local leadership and setting up mechanisms to ensure accountability, HP+ has supported the Malawian government to improve availability of and access to condoms and commodities for the purpose of preventing unintended pregnancies, HIV, and other sexually transmitted infections, promoting better health and well-being for all its citizens.