Health Crisis Unfolds in Malawi as Superbugs Continue to Kill Babies

Superbugs Killing Babies in Malawi

The scourge of superbugs is killing newborns in Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world. To make things worse, superbugs make life-saving drugs are not working at all.

One deadly superbug is known as Klebsiella. It has affected babies at an increasing rate in the African country. The Klebsiella infection was 12 percent resistant in 2003, but now the superbug is 90 percent resistant to drugs. This gives newborns slim chances for survival.

There are available drugs that are found to be potent enough to kill Klebsiella in Malawi hospitals, but it is not readily available and it is costly. One drug known as amikacin is an effective counter medicine but the side effects are severe. They include deafness, and kidney and nerve damage.

Superbugs refer to strains of bacteria that are resistant to the majority of antibiotics. They are expected to kill 10 million people yearly by 2050.

Malawi mother with daughter.
A Malawi mother with her daughter.

The Interplay of Factors

Across Malawi, it is common for mothers to lose a child. There are recognized factors why Malami mothers are losing their babies to superbug infections. In fact, an epidemic of infections are now causing sepsis which makes it also the leading cause of death among newborns.

Why does sepsis continue to be the number one killer of newborns in Malawi?

Many say its a combination of factors which are all related to poverty. Malawi is a poor country where most people live a simple life and they grow their own food. Factors are cited below:

One, water is a big problem in Malawi communities where most of the people have no access to water, thus causing poor sanitation. There are some hospitals where water is not available, making the place a health hazard for newborns and sick children. Aside from that, only a few residents can afford soap and sanitizing products. Poor hygiene triggers constant flares of infections.

Second, the country lacks health facilities that could cater to the needs of pregnant mothers and newborn children. Aside from that, the country’s health care facilities are also failing to meet World Health Organization standards on water and sanitation facilities, according to UNICEF.

Third, malnutrition is prevalent in the country. Poor nutrition causes weaker immune systems. Undernourished mothers and underweight babies are susceptible to diseases and infections. Infant deaths may rise especially when sepsis may infect babies with weaker immune systems.

Poverty is Worse in Malawi

According to the UN, 71% of the total population lives in extreme poverty. Malawi’s poverty levels are high in rural areas with a headcount ratio of 58 percent while in urban areas, poverty headcount ratio stood at roughly about 20 percent.

Human development is low for Malawi as well. In fact, it ranks 170 out of 188 countries in the previous year.

Mina Fabulous
Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn't preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.