Amb speech at hando cerm at St. Jose...jpg

Handover ceremony at St. Joseph College of Nursing and Midwifery

The Norwegian Ambassador Mr. Kikkan Haugen held a speech at the handover ceremony at St. Joseph College of Nursing and Midwifery, 27th of January. He underlined the importance of educating skilled health personnel in order to reach the ambitious Sustainable Development health goal of well-being to all.

M’mawa wabwino kwa nonse pano,

 “ To ensure healthy lives and promote the well-being of all at all ages”

This is the ambitious health goal set in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Norwegian Government is highly committed to this agenda. Through our cooperation with the Government of Malawi, it is our intention to contribute to healthy lives and well-being for all the people in Malawi.

Important targets for this Sustainable Development Goals is to reduce maternal mortality and preventable deaths of newborns and children under the age of 5. These targets are ambitious in a Malawian context. However, looking back Malawi has seen significant improvements in recent years;

-           The fertility rate has been reduce by 30% since the year 2000,

-           90% of all deliveries today take place in health facilities,

-          and  since 2010 child mortality is reduced by almost 50%

These results show the commitment of the Government of Malawi to improve maternal- and neonatal health, as well as the commitment of partners such as Clinton Health Access Initiative, colleges, principals, teachers and students, to give the future generations of this country essential and good quality health care services.

Commitment from the Government of Malawi and documentation of positive results is imperative for the continued Norwegian support to the sector.

The basis for such positive results is efficient service delivery by skilled health personnel. Key to producing skilled personnel is good quality training institutions, such as St. Joseph College of Nursing and Midwifery.

It is therefore a great pleasure for me, representing the Government of Norway, to be here today to witness the handing over of the eleven structures; hostels, classrooms, lecture theatres and skills labs constructed to improve the training of health personnel in Malawi. I hereby thank all of you involved for the work and commitment you have put into the project and for the results we have in front of us today.

It takes more than building classrooms and issuing diplomas to reach the ambitious goal of well-being for all. I would like to highlight three areas where continuous efforts must be directed: The legal- and administrative framework needs to allow for accountability and transparency. Funds must be allocated. And cultural barriers need to be addressed.

Efficient service delivery requires knowledge of what works when and how. This knowledge is often found close to where the problem is, often at local level. It is our belief that accountability, transparency and value for money will increase if more decisions on budgets and spending are made at local level, and if the local authorities are held responsible for the services they deliver. Decentralization of power to make such decisions is key to efficient service delivery. Results from the 28 health facilities in Ncheu, Balaka, Dedza and Mchinji involved in the Norwegian/German Results Based Financing Initiative for Maternal- and Neonatal health, show that involvement in decision-making motivates staff and increases the quality of the services delivered. The Norwegian Government will support any effort by the Government of Malawi to strengthen the local level’s autonomy in providing health care services to the population of this country.

Thanks to institutions like St. Joseph, Malawi has educated many doctors, nurses, midwives and other types of health personnel in the recent years. However, issuing diplomas is not enough. Jobs need to be available. Today there is a 45% vacancy rate in the public health sector in Malawi. The Government of Norway will in our dialogue with the Government of Malawi underline the need to direct funds towards human resource financing within the sector in the coming years. To achieve results we need enough jobs and enough skilled personnel to fill the jobs.

In our work with the Government of Malawi and implementing partners such as Clinton Health Access Initiative and others, Norway will continue to raise the importance of addressing cultural barriers that may work counterproductive to the goal of well-being for all. Child marriages, teenage pregnancies and unsafe abortions continue to threaten the lives of girls and women around the country. Maternal mortality has decreased, but it is still too high, especially among young women.  10-12 women die each day in this country due to pregnancy related conditions. 17% these deaths occur as a consequence of abortion. The Norwegian government commends the ongoing process of reviewing the abortion legislation in Malawi to secure and protect the lives and rights of women. We hope that the new generation of health workers will inform, guide and refer the people they meet, so that these barriers to well-being will be reduced.

With these few remarks, I want to congratulate the all the colleges with their new facilities. I am confident that the long-term effects of these new hostels, classrooms, skills labs and lecture theaters, will be highly qualified health workers, who will devote their professional skills towards reaching the Sustainable Development Goal of well-being for all.

Samalani malo amene takukhonzerani. Zikomo!

 “ Please look after the premises we have provided. Thank you!"