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Malawi launches ‘Letter to the Community’ initiative to promote child survival

© UNICEF Malawi/2008
Hon. Patricia Kaliati symbolically posts a letter to mark the official launch of the ‘Letter to the Community’ campaign promoting child survival in Malawi.

LILONGWE, Malawi, 25 September 2008 – For the first time in Malawi’s history, 25,000 communities will soon receive personalized letters from the Minister of Health and other national leaders. The letters contain messages promoting child survival and development.

The initiative, dubbed ‘Letter to the Community’, was recently launched by Minister of Information and Civic Education Patricia Kaliati at a ceremony held at the Malawi Postal Corporation in Lilongwe.

“The high-impact interventions on accelerated child survival and development spelled out in the letters will promote community dialogue and collective actions, at the village level, for behaviour and social change,” said Ms. Kaliati.

The initiative will reach out to hundreds of thousands of Malawians through a network of 25,000 community leaders – all as part of the effort to accelerate Malawi’s progress towards the Millennium Development Goal of a two-thirds reduction in under-five child mortality by 2015.

A challenge to take action
Though impressive results have already been recorded, more remains to be done for the country to achieve its MDG target on child survival. UNICEF Representative in Malawi Aida Girma noted that one in eight children born here never reaches age five. Most under-five deaths result from preventable illnesses.

“These letters will address specific high-impact interventions and propose actions that need to be taken by households and communities, at very low cost, to prevent diseases and save the lives of children,” said Ms. Girma.

If all goes according to plan, traditional authorities will meet with their village headmen and hand over the letters. The village headmen will then convene meetings with community members to read the messages, encourage dialogue and challenge villagers to take the necessary actions and address relevant issues.

More initiatives planned
The letters, which will contain various themes, are to be endorsed by the President of Malawi.

© UNICEF Malawi/2008
A Malawi Postal Corporation vehicle bears messages on accelerated child survival and development.

“We are happy to contribute to the government’s development agenda to improve the survival rates of children and women by disseminating these important letters,” said Acting Post-Master General Joseph Chiusiwa. “This is a great initiative.”

The ‘Letter to the Community’ campaign is collaborative effort of the Ministries of Health, Information and Civic Education, the Malawi Postal Corporation and UNICEF.

Besides this initiative, others are planned – including the ‘Letter to the Box’ project, in which roughly 60,000 similar letters will be sent to all registered postal boxes in Malawi. Child survival messages will be printed on postage stamps, public transport buses and post offices, as well.




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