Number of maternal deaths per live births: 634 deaths per 100,000 live births

Lifetime risk of dying during pregnancy or childbirth: 1 in 29

Number of maternal deaths per year: 4,200

It is estimated that each year in Malawi 4,200 women and girls die in pregnancy and childbirth*


What we’re doing

Maternity Worldwide began work on introducing an integrated maternal health approach project in Zomba District, Malawi at the beginning of 2010. This followed the completion of a detailed needs assessment evaluating the local situation within the ‘Three Delays’ framework which guides our work. Using this we identified those areas of maternal health provision which most urgently needed to be addressed in order to enable women in the area to give birth safely.  Zomba District is located in the south of Malawi and is one of the three poorest districts in Malawi. 70% of the population falls below the national poverty line.  Our project covers two of the rural Traditional Authority (TA) areas, Mwambo and Chikowi, which together have a population of around 583,000 people. More than half of the inhabitants are aged 18 or younger.

BLF Blue Logo - Online UseWe are near the end of our Three Year Integrated Maternal Health Programme in Malawi, which is funded by a £498,027 grant awarded by the Big Lottery Fund.  The programme, based in the Zomba district of Malawi, will be working in 80 villages to improve maternal and new-born healthcare through the following activities;

Women’s groups

MalawiThe programme, which began in September 2014, is working with existing women’s groups and has also been setting up new women’s groups to provide Community Maternal Health promotion and develop Income Generation Activities (IGA’s). Members of the wider community will be invited to attend activities as it is important that all members of the community are aware of the risks associated with pregnancy and childbirth.

The groups are run by local volunteers who have been trained to provide support and guidance to help women to identify their maternal and new-born health challenges. Topics covered during these sessions will include accessing antenatal care, family planning, HIV testing, trigger signs in pregnancy/child birth, planning for delivery, care for new-borns, contraception and basic healthcare.

Home visit Practical session during CBMNH trainingIncome generation and empowerment

Training around managing money and marketing has been delivered to 853 individuals in year 1. This empowers the women by enabling them to become financially independent and make their own decisions about how to spend the money they have earned. Men will continue to have an important role in household decision making and as leaders within the community, and their inputs will be encouraged at community meetings and other related activities such as health promotion.Malawi

Training staff

Training has been provided which equips staff with the knowledge and skills to provide the basic and comprehensive obstetric care at two health centres and Pirimiti community hospital respectively ensuring women who arrive at the health facilities to give birth are met by suitably skilled medical personnel.

A Midwife Trainer leads and supervises a group of 24 staff enabling them to become Skilled Birth Attendants (SBA). Referral and management procedures have be improved in and between the facilities to ensure that women receive timely and appropriate care.

HSAs during CBMNH trainingThe project has also developed a complementary training programme to increase the knowledge of government Health Surveillance Assistants (HSA). This enables them to advise families and communities on best practices during pregnancy and childbirth during their routine household visits and other community outreach activities.


Maternity Worldwide’s approach is to work closely with local partners to increase skills and build capacity thereby ensuring the sustainability of improvements to maternal health services. In Zomba we are working in partnership with the local Catholic Healthcare Commission (CHC) which operates six of the health facilities in the District.  Our project will be working with the CHC community hospital at Pirimiti and two health centres at Magomero and Matiya.

Impact Report

Between 2015-2018, the Big Lottery Fund supported a three-year integrated maternal and newborn health programme in Zomba (extended into 2019), aimed at improving access to quality maternal care and empowering communities. Maternity Worldwide ran the project in partnership with the local Catholic Healthcare Commission (CHC) which operates six of the health facilities
in the District.

Download the full Impact Report (pdf)

*WHO, 2015