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New Condom Strategy and revised STIs Management guideline launched

MOH Muluzi symbolic cutting off of ribbon at launch

The Ministry of Health on Friday launched a new National Condom Strategy and a revised Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) Management Guidelines.

This comes amidst a report that over 260 000 Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) were recorded in the country in 2016.

The new National Condom Strategy aims at improving condom availability and use amongst sexually active persons which government says still remain inconsistent. Current statistics show only four condoms are being per person per year.

The new Sexually Transmitted Infections Management Guidelines contains revised treatment regimens and how to deal with new emerging syndromes.

Minister of Health Atupele Muluzi officially launched the two documents at Bingu International Convention Centre in Lilongwe.

He said the two documents would help government guide the coordination and policy direction in the fight against new STIs, HIV and unintended pregnancies.

Muluzi said despite the country having registered a success in managing STIs; there is still a lot to be done in order to lower the infections.

He said this was the right time to ramp up efforts in ensuring that more Malawians are using protection (condoms) and enjoy the health benefits associated with that, especially amongst the youth.

“I think it is extremely important we should have this conversation especially amongst young people who are sexually active because they need protection.

“That why we felt it was extremely important to improve in terms of disseminating the importance of making sure that those of us that are sexually active are using condoms to protect ourselves against STIs, HIV and unintended pregnancies,” the Minister explained.

Muluzi said government recognizes the conflict of condom use against cultural and religious beliefs.
He urged traditional and faith leaders should join this conversation saying there are lessons to be learnt from other countries which have realized the importance of advocating condom use.

“But we have to recognize the sensitivities around those issues and ensure we have a very constructive conversation about how we can address these real issues affecting young people and Malawians,” Muluzi added.

The Minister bemoaned the current low statistics on condom use in the country saying this shows Malawians have very little knowledge and confidence in condoms.

“There is a notion of ‘it would not happen to me, I could continue having multiple (sexual) partners and unprotected sex’. But the reality is very different.

“That is why we are ramping up our efforts to get more people informed about the fortunes of using condoms as the best line of defense against STIs, HIV and unintended pregnancies especially on the adolescence girls who are sexually active,” he pointed out.

Director in the department of HIV and Aids in MoH, Rose Nyirenda said the Ministry is responsible in the bio- medical response for HIV is to provide policy direction for the bio- medical interventions.

According to her, STIs are one of the key areas and that condoms are one of the bio-medical interventions.

Nyirenda said the last condom strategy ended in 2013 and there was need to have a new one in order to take the message of condom use back to the people after observing that there is low condom use.

“We observed that we were having challenges in terms of people accessing condoms. So we needed to strategize on how best we can make condoms (available) in the public and private sector, for people living in both urban and rural settings.

“And also to those who will be accessing them freely and those who will be paying for them in various places like pharmacies and shops,” the Director noted.

On the revised STIs management guidelines which were last revised in 2008, she said through the World Health Organization, there have been several emerging issues that needed to be addressed.

According to her, these include the emergence of anti-microbial resistance and new infections that previously were not there like the occurring infections in the anal rectal area.

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Highlight of The YearLatest NewsTechnology

Malawi making strides in right to access to information

Dausi at the Right to know conference

Government says it is making significant strides in the promotion of the right to information and right to access to information in the country.

The Minister of Information and Communications Technology, Nicholas Dausi, said during the commemoration of the International Right to know Day at Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe.

Dausi said government has made good progress in promoting freedom of expression, freedom of opinion and freedom of the media to publish freely in the country without been questioned.

The Minister explained that Malawi adopted the information regime which has enabled it to fully participate in the commemoration of the day.

“The commemoration of the International Right to know Day started way back in 2002 when advocates of the right to information gathered in Sofia, Bulgaria. Since then, commemorations have continued to be done on yearly basis, particularly in those countries with legislation on Access to Information.” Dausi recalled.

He hoped that the country would continue to commemorate the day on yearly basis from now onwards in line with this principle that Government enacted the Access to Information law (Number 13 of 2017).

Dausi said the enactment of the law on Access to Information would eventually have a very positive impact on the enjoyment of many other rights such as the right to freedom of expression.

“The enactment of the Access to Information Act has not just come accidentally. It has come as an attempt to bring to life the Constitutional provisions on the right to information and right to access to information.” He observed.

Dausi added that with the passage of this new law, Malawians could now exercise their right to access public information to the extent that such information is required for the enjoyment of their right.

“By passing the law on access to information, the Government has now made it possible for many Malawians to begin to exercise their rights as enshrined in the Constitution.” The Minister viewed.

He singled out that the enactment of the Access to Information Act is part of the ongoing reforms in the public sector Government has been championing since 2014.

“These reforms are meant to make Government transparent, accountable and responsive to the needs of the people. Our Government is committed to ensuring that we raise the bar of excellence in so far as the provision of public services is concerned,” he emphasized.

Dausi said government considered the need to empower citizens to demand better services, more accountability and transparency in the workings of government institutions in the quest to fight Corruption.

“The passing of the Access to Information Act empowers the people as rights holders to demand their rightful entitlements,” he noted.

Dausi thanked United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for the financial support that they have provided to this activity.

“We thank them for the continued support to all other related activities pertaining to the law on access to information. We anticipate a lot of capacity building initiatives in the near future targeted at oversight institutions, information holders, and the media,” the Minister pointed out.

Commissioner for Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC), Patrick Semphere said their organization would need material and financial support to ensure that Access to information ACT is implemented in full.

He said MHRC human resource would require capacity building in order to understand better the ACT.

Chairperson of Parliamentary Committee on Media Information and Communication, Samuel Kawale called upon various institutions to familiarize themselves with Access to Information Act.

He said for the institutions to make to use of it they need to fully understand it and take a leading role in sensitizing the people on its importance.

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Latest News

MEDF taking legal action to recover money from politically motivated defaulters

Jere

The Malawi Enterprise Development Fund (MEDF) has said it is taking legal action in order to recover money from politically motivated defaulters.

Chief Operations Officer, Dingiswayo Jere said “The greatest challenge we are currently facing is to get repayments from some loans as old as five years back that were not properly appraised before the disbursement.

“Most of these loans were disbursed based on some political interests that ended up being misconstrued by the clients as gifts by some Politicians,” said Jere without disclosing the total amount on default.

He said MEDF was trying to address the problem by engaging those politicians to understand that the money was not a gift but meant to benefit Malawians.

However, Jere said very few were understanding and were repaying with many not cooperative hence they are being taken through the legal processes by engaging the courts.

“The bottom line is, this is government’s money meant to be a revolving fund.  Of course, it is ironical if a Politician fails to pay and yet they are supposed to support the government’s program.

“If a politician gets a loan and doesn’t pay, they are sabotaging the government’s program as what this means is that they are saying, “let this program not continue,” he stated.

The chief operations officer described the high demand of loan products as a positive development admitting his office was grappling to meet the demand and has since asked government to intervene by giving MEDF more funds.

“We are engaging the government to give us more capital funds besides asking other partners that can put money into MEDF as we are running the office as purely a Micro-finance that is commercial and is supposed to bring dividends to government,” he hinted.

Jere said as a government owned Micro-Finance institution targeting the non-bankable clients who cannot access finances from the commercial banks they are such people frequenting MEDF for loans.

He further said MEDF observes non-biasness in disbursing its loans in order to meet its objectives of providing financial assistance in the form of loan capital to micro and small scale enterprises in urban and rural areas in Malawi.
“Objectively, we address challenges facing the youth in Malawi by providing them with knowledge, essential skills, competencies and opportunities to engage in micro, small and medium enterprises as a self-employment mechanism,” he said.

He said MEDF has 15 branches in all the 193 political constituencies that qualify it as the largest money lending institution with nearly five milion applicants monthly.

“Let them repay the loans which they still owe MEDF before they are taken to courts, because no-one will be spared as everybody appreciates that a revolving loan is meant to reach many,” he emphasized.

MEDF formerly MARDEF changed in 2014 through a formal legal process to operate as micro-finance institution in the country.

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AgricultureLatest News

Ministry of Agriculture warns of Red Locust outbreak

Red Locust

The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development says there is an outbreak of Red Locust in Mulanje District.

In a statement the Ministry has released says locust swarms were first sighted on 19th September in Chinyama Section along the Ruo River.

The statement further says the affected areas include Unyolo 1 and 2, Sanyika, Ntiza, Thembe, Samela and Golden.

So far the locusts have been seen in various plantations and have damaged crops such as cassava, maize, banana, sweet potatoes and pigeon peas.

In the statement the Ministry says the locusts are moving towards the direction of Luchenza in Thyolo District and Thuchila EPA on the border with Chiradzulu District.

The Ministry is assuring the public that it is doing everything possible to control the situation adding that officials will assist the communities with pesticides.

Meanwhile communities have been advised to refrain from picking and consuming weakened or dead locusts which have been sprayed with pesticides.

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InfrastructureLatest News

MCC maintains Malawi Power supply dateline

Acting CEO AND Pres. Mutharika

The Millennium Challenge Corporation says its multi billion Kwacha Millennium challenge compact grant to the government of Malawi remains set for completion in September next year.

Acting Chief Executive Officer for the Corporation Jonathan Nash disclosed this on Monday after an audience with President Professor Arthur Peter in New York in the United States of America. This was one among several engagements that Professor Mutharika is expected to have before, during and after this year’s United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Said the acting CEO, “We have a five year programme. Government has made tremendous successes. We have one year left but there is a lot of work to do.”

Nash who could not disclose what will follow for Malawi after the completion of the current US$350 million initiative went on to express hope for the successful completion of the nearly 200 billion Kwacha initiative by its set deadline in 2018.

“There is deep commitment from both parties – MCC and the government of Malawi to finish this program with success”, he concluded.

The audience with Nash is one among many by President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika lined up official engagements before, during and after the week long annual General Assembly at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation is a bilateral United States foreign aid agency. It is based on the principle that aid is most effective when it enhances good governance. In Malawi, the single-sector program is designed to contribute to Malawi’s efforts in reducing poverty through increased access to reliable electric power.

Among other things, it has so far placed some significant focus on areas such as rehabilitation of Nkula hydro power plant, and installation of transmission and distribution lines. The five year project started in September 2013.

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BusinessLatest News

Mutharika woos in US investors

Mutharika at UN

Malawi and Africa as whole remain potential destinations for investment because they still possess abundant resources for production, Malawi’s President Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika has said.

President Mutharika made the remarks Tuesday evening at Morgan Library and Museum in New York during a fundraising event organized by a Lilongwe-based Miracle for Africa Foundation.

“Investing in Malawi and the whole of Africa is very attractive. While world investment returns are about eight percent, Africa boasts of 30 percent investment returns because of the availability of resources,” Mutharika said.

The president called on the international business community to become part of a successful investment narrative by bringing their financial resources to Malawi.

President Mutharika encouraged investors to consider spreading the net of their investment beyond the health sector by accommodating other sectors like agriculture and education.

He promised to create a health and ideal environment for investment.

“My government will make investment in Malawi attractive through provision of safety and security for people’s lives and their property,” Mutharika said.

The President commended Miracle for Africa Foundation for its initiatives in complementing Malawi’s national development agenda

A number of corporate moguls based in New York graced the fundraising event which was aimed at mobilizing resources for the construction of a state-of-the-art Library at Daeyang Luke Nursing College in Lilongwe.

The college is owned by Miracle for Africa Foundation.

Chairperson and founder for the foundation You Keun Chung said his organization will continue to support government in addressing challenges in the health sector.

“Our major focus is reducing the high doctor – patient ratio,” Chung said.

Apart from focusing on the library project, the foundation intends to raise about MK3 billion for investments in all critical sectors of development in Malawi.

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Latest News

Dont steal public resources-Minister Gondwe says

Gondwe

Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Goodall Gondwe says people in the country need to safeguard public resources if the economy is to grow.

Speaking in Lilongwe at the Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) on Wednesday, Gondwe said it is high time people in the country started generating integrity and respect for public resources by making sure that they are not defrauded.

He made the remarks during the third High Level Forum on Development Effectiveness (HLF3), the highest multi-stakeholder policy dialogue structure on effective development cooperation.

Held under the theme ’Towards an Inclusive and Accelerated Implementation of the Third Malawi Growth and Development Strategy’, Goodall said the country is at the verge where it should vigorously launch itself on a path for growth noting this could only be achieved if resources were  not misused.

“This relates everywhere in the economy and in fact, we need to have a conference on integrity that will enable us reduce misuse of resources either by defrauding, corruption or carelessness use of it and that this will help the country’s economy to gain its strength,” he said.

Among other things, the meeting was meant to draw consensus, provide guidance and accelerate action on the National Development Agenda-Implementation of the Third Malawi Grow and Development Strategy (MGDS III).

“What we are doing today is to sit down with key people, traditional chiefs represented by two paramount chiefs, ministers and the captains of the industry to discuss how we will position ourselves to get to the strategies to be implemented,” he said.

Goodall said the meeting was fruitful as it has happened at the time when they will be launching the MGDS III where growth objectives for the next five years are to be drawn.

According to him, both MGDS 1 and MGDS II had priorities that faced a lot of challenges in implementing relating to failure of crops and hunger.

He said as such the country even failed to achieve vision 2020 because the country could not generate its own resources.

“If you look at what we expected to achieve in vision 2020, one of the more important ones was to be a middle income country which means that our GDP by now would have been above $1000 per year or even more than that. We were going to transform our country into an industrialized country and reduce poverty by a big factor but we haven’t done that because resources were misused,” said Goodall.

He said they had suggestions from the stakeholders present that the country should discreet irrigation projects where solar energy will lift underground water to irrigate areas around, hoping that this will help the country to do well.

Goodall said with the commitment of everyone, the most important thing that has to be done first is that the country should change its agricultural practice.

“Instead of being a country that relies on one produce a year, we should start producing twice a year and that this will increase our productivity. It will be important to have more agricultural projects.

“The country has got to rely on its own resources first. It will have to mobilize more resources to finance the requirements of the national strategy. Developing partners will just supplement us. If we fail to mobilize resources that are needed internally, I hope developing partners will see it worthwhile to increase their support but it should start with us,” he said.

The minister said that when the national Planning Commission takes position, it will evaluate the amount of money needed to be pumped in for implementation of the strategy saying he hoped that it will be about 500 billion per year and his expectations were that the country will need to cough about MK2.5 trillion.

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InfrastructureLatest NewsTechnology

Egenco projects stability in power supply in the country

Nkula A Power Falls

The Electricity Generation Company (Egenco) has intensified efforts aimed at stabilising power supply in the country.

Egenco Chief Executive Officer William Liabunya has however blamed siltation in the company’s ponds as the leading factor in the ongoing erratic power supply.

Speaking after Natural Resources, Energy and Minister Aggrey Masi toured some rehabilitation projects in Tedzani and Nkula Power Stations on Tuesday, Liabunya further added that siltation has resulted in the company generating only 220 megawatt out of the available 333.40 megawatt.

Said Liabunya: “Siltation remains a challenge in all our power stations. There is a lot of silt that has accumulated over the years and is impacting negatively on our duty to generate enough electricity. Water storage capacities of our ponds has drastically reduced due to such silt.”

Egenco has so far dredged about 72, 380 metric tons of silt from Nkula pond alone, and another MK4.5billion dredging project by Motal Engil has kick-started.

Under the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) project, Nkula A power station is completely shut down and is undergoing a rehabilitation, modernization and upgrading, a work scheduled to be complete in June next year. Soon after this, Liabunya said, project on upgrading Tedzani 3 will kick start, to be followed by a construction of Tedzani 4. This means the soonest Malawians can start dreaming of stable hydro electricity power supply is 18 months.

Taking his turn, Minister Masi said Egenco’s efforts to stabilise power supply must be supported.

“Egenco’s claims are valid and it is just by God’s grace that we still have power in some hours of the day. However, we, as a country should despair as there is hope insight,” said Masi.

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Latest NewsTechnology

Malawi to regulate drones

Drone

The Department of Civil Aviation-DCA is to draft Aviation Regulations to facilitate the integration of unmanned aircrafts also known as drones into the national airspace.

Public Relations Officer of the Aviation Department, James Chakwera said the regulations will bring sanity in the operation of drones in various fields.

“You may be aware that drones are one of the new technological advancements in the country. Like any other country in Africa, we are overwhelmed by the new development, we believe the use of these drones is not well monitored. We have also discovered that there is no order in the way people use drones in the country,” he said.

Chakwera was quick to point out that the regulations that government is formulating will not at any point hamper any developmental activity that drones do.

“It is true that these drones are helpful in various developmental works like health. You might be aware that UNICEF did a pilot project on these drones by using them to transfer blood samples in the rural areas while others use them to take pictures in places they can’t reach.

“However despite all these roles that drone plays, we have discovered that it can pause a threat to the community and to normal aircrafts. For instance, if you put a camera on the drone and fly it without proper procedure, it might infringe on other people’s privacy”, He added

The government of Malawi has already drafted the regulations on the use and operation of drones with the funding from UNICEF and is currently soliciting input from the public.

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EventsLatest News

RFP to hold International Grand Conference on Combining Spiritual and Academic Excellence

Press briefing

Raised For a Purpose Ministries (RFPM) says it will hold the annual International Grand Conference on Combining Spiritual and Academic Excellence (IGCSAE) on Saturday, the 30th Of September 2017, at Bingu International Conference Centre (BICC), Lilongwe, Malawi.

Senior Pastor Aubrey told a press briefing on Tuesday at the Tent of His Love and Glory (TLG) that the full day conference complements Government’s effort of increasing national development through adding intellectual value to the residents of the country.

“With a thorough appreciation of the diverse challenges faced by this country, and having read both the Vision 2020 goals and the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS); it is quite evident that the Government [current and future] cannot singlehandedly achieve all these goals without the continual support and efforts from non- governmental bodies of which the Church is a part” said Pastor Aubrey.

He explained “We believe that if we can increase the individual success and excellence of the people that will attend this conference, then we can in turn increase the success and excellence of the country at large” adding “this is because the people that will attend this conference are the same people that hold different positions in Government and private sector, while some are students that will soon hold these same positions of influence in Government or private sector”.

Pastor Aubrey addressing the media

Explaining how the conference aims to achieve the outlined goals, Pastor Aubrey said the IGCSAE is a 2-in-1 Conference comprising a Combining Spiritual and Academic Excellence Conference as well as the Combining Spiritual and Career Excellence Conference

“The Combining Spiritual and Academic Excellence Conference aims at teaching intellectuals at any level of education, be it certificate, degree, or PDH, on how to not only to pass in their academics but also to attain excellent or outstanding results. From previous conferences held, we have had countless testimonies of how people moved not only from failing to passing, but even to become credit and distinction students”

Pastor Aubrey further pointed out the Combining Spiritual and Career Excellence Conference as a newly introduced segment to the IGCSAE initiative. This segment aims at drawing the attention of professionals and entrepreneurs to the fact that academic success does not automatically translate to success in employment or in entrepreneurship. There are other principles that need to be applied.

Speakers at the conference are Pastor Aubrey and Maria Mhlandire. He said the speakers have been chosen to ensure practical and relevant information.

Mhlandire, an expert presenter is a highly academically qualified with vast experience and has achieved outstanding results in employment and entrepreneurship.

Before moving to fulltime entrepreneurship, Maria accumulated 16 years’ experience in various corporate executive management roles, including being the Former Africa Region Head of Corporate Innovation and Skills for DHL Global. She then founded her consultancy firm called “Accelerate Africa” which provides consultancy services both in Africa and beyond.

Pastor Aubrey then told journalist’s that another highlight of this conference are the annual CSAE Awards.

“These awards are for those that have demonstrated a sound Christian life while at the same time attaining outstanding results in their academics. Applications are being received from all around the world and from these; a select 3 will be awarded with winners going away with valuable prizes plus CSAE branded materials”

“It is also worth mentioning that this conference is international and will host delegates from different countries around the world and districts around Malawi. It will be streamed LIVE worldwide to all those that have registered. Last year, it was streamed by people from over 50 countries of the world; this year we expect more”. He added.

Clarifying on monetary issues, Pastor Aubrey said the event is free to all though attendance is strictly by registration.

“However, having it free does not mean it is a Project financed or affiliated to any organisation or donor as some people have attempted to mislead others” said the Pastor.

He categorically said the finances for the event are coming from church resources. Despite not giving the figures publicly, estimates run up to 10 million Kwacha.

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