Concern said the Southern African nation – which is among the poorest in the world with 71 per cent of its 17.5 million population living in poverty – is struggling to cope, with cases up by over 300 per cent and deaths by 400 per cent since the start of the year.
“The biggest problem is oxygen supplies in a country with a health system that is already very fragile,” said Concern Malawi Country Director, Yousaf Jogezai.
“Malawi needs medical oxygen to save lives, but it is extremely hard to get right now with demand so high in many countries.
“Hospitals are also full, short staffed and in need of more equipment. People here are very worried.”
Using funding provided by the EU’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations Department (ECHO), the charity is providing basic medical equipment, such as blood pressure monitors, stethoscopes, masks, thermometers and nebulisers.
As part of the programme, Concern is also helping the Malawian health authorities to refill empty oxygen cylinders and plans to provide portable oxygen containers called concentrators, along with a supply of nasal cannula tubes that are used to deliver oxygen to patients.
This is in addition to the Covid-19 prevention work that Concern has been doing since the start of the pandemic in Malawi, where it reached 1.5 million people in 2020 - largely through public messaging on ways to stop the spread of the lethal virus.
“We have been providing soaps, hand sanitisers, chlorine powder, handwashing facilities and masks in communities and in schools,” added Yousaf, who leads a team of 120 Concern staff in Malawi.
“Radio jingles, public campaigns and speakers on moving vehicles playing Covid-19 safety messages have also been a huge part of our ongoing response.”