Preliminary findings of Malawi Demographic Health Survey (MDHS), have shown that Malawi’s fertility rate has gone down from 5.7 children per woman in 2010 to 4.4 children per woman in 2015/16.
This is one of the successes the country has registered in key health indicators that were taken into consideration in 2015/16 MDHS. Other topics covered in the survey included family planning, infant and child health, maternal health, child and adult nutrition, malaria, HIV and Aids and domestic violence.
The National Statistics Office (NSO) unveiled the findings in Lilongwe on Friday. According to Commissioner of Statistics, Mercy Kanyuka, the next step is finalising small details, before the final report is released towards the end of the year. But according to Kanyuka, not much change is expected.
The report says in the last 24 years, Total Fertility Rate (TFR) has been declining.
“The data indicate that fertility rate has been declining in Malawi since the 1990s. The TFR has declined from 6.7 children per woman in 1992 to 6.3 children per woman in 2000 to 6.0 children per woman in 2004 and 5.7 children per woman in 2010. Following the two-decade-long steady decline, in fertility since the 1990s, the TFR declined sharply in the last three years and reached 4.4 children per woman in the current survey,” reads part of the report.
However, the study has shown that there is a drop in children’s access to crucial vaccinations.
Minister of Health, Peter Kumpalume, who was present during the launch of the report in Lilongwe on Friday expressed happiness with the findings.
“Few countries can achieve reduction in fertility rate. That is a very big improvement. We have also significantly reduced child deaths from 112 per 1000 to 64 per 1000. There has also been a reduction in maternal deaths. These are very significant strides,” Kumpalume said.
He, however, said more has to be done in other areas.
“We still have to ensure that children are provided with all vaccinations. We also have to make sure that we improve on nutrition aspect. This data will, therefore help us in further improvement,” Kumpalume said.
United States Agency for International Development, National Aids Commission, UN Women, Unicef, UNFPA, Irish Aid and World Bank provided technical and financial support in the survey.
Usaid Health Office Director, Peter Halpert, said he was also impressed with the progress.
“One of the most exciting findings is data under fertility rate which has gone down. It is extremely good news particularly for mothers and children in Malawi. This is historical for Malawi. I hope that will continue,” Halpert said.