Malawi: Where Three Quarters of the Population Have Never Had Their Blood Pressure Checked

23rd May 2018Lisa Woodward

Malawi: Where Three Quarters of the Population Have Never Had Their Blood Pressure Checked

Written by Henry Ndhlovu, Country Leader, Malawi



Hypertension is one of the health concerns in Malawi. A WHO STEPS survey conducted in 2009 found out that 32.9% of participants tested positive for the age-standardized hypertension. The study further showed that three-quarters of the participants never had their BP measured before and 94.9% of those with hypertension reported not aware that they had such a medical problem.

This clearly indicates that Hypertension is a health problem and with interventions like May Measurement Month this could be reduced.


2. Information about our screening

In 2018 we targeted six districts namely Mzimba (Mzuzu), Nkhatabay, Kasungu, Lilongwe, Dedza and Blantyre. In Nkhatabay and Kasungu we were in rural areas Traditional Authorities Mkumbila in Nkhatabay and Chisemphere in Kasungu in order to ensure we reach people who have limited access to health facilities.

The activities were organized by Moyowathu HealthCare Services and Prime Health Consulting and Services with full support of Ministry of Health and Population.

Each district was assigned ten screening sites and these were in the communities, hospitals/clinics, workplaces, schools, churches and open spaces.

At Chisemphere a businessman offered place for screening for free and this was used throughout the exercise.

Volunteers at Chisemphere in Kasungu (left) and doing BP checks (right).


3. Key collaborations

The screeners were working health workers, retired nurses and unemployed youths. Most of the health workers were the ones that we involved in MMM17 but it was pleasing noting non-health workers performing well especially in rural areas of Nkhatabay and Kasungu.

In Nkhatabay a retired Nurse trained a non-health worker while in Kasungu a working nurse trained four non-health workers and together they were doing the screening. The qualified health workers provided health education and guidance especially for those with raised Blood Pressure using the ISH Ten Tips to live with healthy blood pressure.

Volunteers doing BP checks at Msani in Nkhatabay


4. Key learnings or results

As one way of ensuring we contribute to the welfare of women, especially in Maternal Health, we donated the Blood Pressure Machines used at Bwaila and Mangochi District Hospitals as they lacked these machines. This also was part of publicity as was covered by the Press and a lot of people noticed the MMM initiative.

Henry donating to Bwaila (left) and Mangochi (right) District Hospitals


Involvement of Local Leaders is of paramount like in Nkhatabay when the Retired Nurse approached Leaders of four villages and briefed them when they noticed the importance of the exercise they extended it to other leaders and in total seven villages were included in the initial screening.

We used Malawi News Agency (MANA) and Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) Blantyre Newspapers for Publicity. MANA could provide stories to various media houses and also put our stories on their website. For ZBS mainly the radio covered us as news item over the weekend and also on their good morning Malawi show. These resulted in good publicity.

Press coverage of MMM18 in Malawi.