Posted by: sayamika, the killer bunny | 2009 September 14

Malawi in the news

The good: Malawi made a top ten list.

The bad: It was top ten child mortality, in the world.

The good: Malawi is doing something to change that.

In 2000, under five mortality was 225 per 1000. Tireless work by various groups have more than halved this number and today the under five mortality rate is 100 per 1000 live births.

That’s still too high. In the USA, it’s 8, and in Canada it’s 6.

I loved and hated Malawi.

I remember when my good friend Mai Chingwe was pregnant with her second baby. I wasn’t allowed to discuss the pregnancy with her. She wasn’t allowed to prepare a room. She didn’t buy or make any clothes for the coming baby.

She had prenatal visits with ultrasound scans, but didn’t come home all gleeful and want to chat about her baby’s heartbeat and fingers and toes.

She went into labour and delivered without incident. Nobody told me or anyone else, I found out by coming to visit. He was a beautiful healthy baby boy. I wasn’t able to hold him. He didn’t have a name. She and her husband wouldn’t choose one

When the baby was one month old, they named him Emmanuel.

Mai Chingwe explained to me that so many babies die before one month, they don’t celebrate in her culture until they make it to that point. They can’t accept a baby as present until it survives a month. She let me hold him. He was gorgeous.

Emmanuel died of diarrhea three weeks later.



  1. A saddening and evocative post. I’m sorry for your friend’s loss.

    (I was linked here from Effect Measure.)

  2. poignant. real. but its a complicated problem, requiring many factors to be addressed. thanks for recognising progress.

  3. @ Caia, thanks. The inequality and the way happy anticipation wasn’t part of her pregnancy broke my heart nearly as much as baby Emmanuel’s sad sad fate.

    @ Jess, Malawi has gained so much in the past 10 years. I was so thrilled when I got to go back two years ago. I want to go back again. My connection is not working well tonight, so I’m not sure about your context yet, but I’ll look later…

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