Malawi – ‘Vampire’ Attacks Reflect Healthcare Tensions

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Economic woes and unhappiness with healthcare have contributed to the panic in the southern part of the country, says a leading clinical psychologist.

Ten people have been killed and others attacked in October over accusations of blood sucking in Malawi. Police have made some 200 arrests of those allegedly involved in mob justice.

“It’s a reflection of the way the country looks at things and makes sense of tensions and economic pressures,” Dr. Chiwoza Bandawe, a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Malawi in Blantyre told RFI.

The first blood sucking accusations in Malawi occurred in 1948 and 1949, according to Catholic University lecturer Sangwani Tembo, who spoke at the university on this issue on October 27th.

While marginalised people, including widows, are typical scapegoats, accusations have been placed on the population at large, including doctors.

“It’s also about trying to make sense of the western-type medical profession vis-à-vis traditional medicines, and of course the western type has the power now, and all this contributes to the tension,” says Dr Bandawe.

“I think at some point also there’s been some dissatisfaction with the health system itself, because it has been under-resourced,” he says, adding that some stories have emerged where healthcare workers abused patients.

Medical practitioners are frequently on the receiving end of abuse, especially in the rural areas, says Dr. Amos Nyaka, the head of the Malawi Society for Medical Doctors in Lilongwe.

Lack of education comes into play as well, says Chitawira-based Centre for Human Rights Education Advice and Assistance (CHREAA) Director Vincent Hango.

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Schoolchildren in Mulanje – CC 2010

“We have a good number of people who are illiterate. They believe in witchcraft. It’s very difficult to change their beliefs because this is what they have believed since they were born,” he says.

The government has enforced security in affected areas, but many feel that it should have taken a stauncher response, reassuring those who felt threatened by the wave of violence.

“As a country I think we’re very ashamed,” says Dr Nyaka, adding that the Malawi Society of Medical Doctors “will take this as a challenge to communicate to our people and to reassure them that they are not blood suckers.”

Malawi will from November 1st host a three-day high-level meeting on promoting policy coherence on health technology innovation and access for the African Regional Intellectual Property Office (ARIPO), said Malawi News Agency.

The meeting brings together a range of leaders, policymakers and institutions including representatives from Ministries of Trade, Health and Justice, civil society, international experts and academics.

Minister of Health Atupele Muluzi has said Malawi and many of the 18 ARIPO member states have made great strides in improving public health and by consequence, human development outcomes in recent years.

He said that despite significant progress, the burden of infectious diseases, particularly HIV, malaria and Tuberculosis pose a threat to public health.

Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Samuel Tembenu said the meeting comes at a time when countries around the world are pursuing various means to ensure availability and access to medicines for their citizens.

The meeting aims at providing a forum for ARIPO countries to exchange views and to share experiences on best practices that promote availability and access to affordable health coverage, Tembenu added.

The high-level meeting has been jointly organised by the Malawi government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

Malawi – Refugee Clashes Deplored
Political, Social and Cultural series
Vol. 54, Issue 6, pp. 21458C

HEALTH: Malaria
Political, Social and Cultural series
Vol. 54, Issue 4, pp. 21416A–21417C

MALAWI: High Future Growth?
Economic, Financial and Technical series
Vol. 54, Issue 5, pp. 21707A–21707C

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Botswana – Masire Obituary

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The erstwhile premier is credited with bringing stability to the southern African nation. 

President of Botswana between 1980-1998, Katumile Masire was a cattle herder turned politician who led the country through turbulent economic, social and political times. He was heralded by many as a model leader on the continent.

In 1966 when Botswana – then Bechuanaland – became independent from the UK, it had just two miles of paved roads and a single public secondary school. Diamond discoveries changed this and Masire and his predecessor Seretse Khama used revenues to fund education, healthcare and infrastructure.

In 1989, he shared the Africa Prize for Leadership, awarded by the Hunger Project in recognition of the food distribution efforts that helped the country avoid starvation and famine.

Masire also managed to negotiate a delicate relationship with neighbouring South Africa, a major economic partner but the Botswanan government was opposed to apartheid policies. “He had to walk a line in a really rough neighbourhood,” said Chester Crocker, a former US Assistant Secretary of State for African affairs.

Botswana is in many respects remarkable when compared to other African nations, with a relatively robust democracy and limited, noticeable corruption. This has meant the tourism industry has bloomed, particularly wildlife tourism.

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Masire – Premium Times. 

Masire was born in Kanye in southern Botswana near the South African border in 1925. He was a herder before enrolling in a primary school at 13. After his parents died when he was in his early twenties, he became e a teacher to support his siblings.

He also worked as a journalist, served on tribal and regional councils, and was a founder and secretary-general of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), now the dominant political party in the country.

After leaving office, he advised other African leaders and chaired the International Panel of Eminent Personalities that investigated the Rwandan genocide of 1994. He made important contributions to peace efforts in DR Congo and helped to end Mozambique’s civil war.

Masire stepped down in 1998 after overseeing a lengthy period of economic growth, largely oriented around effective management of diamond wealth. In retirement, Masire established the Sir Ketumile Masire Foundation, which aims to improve agriculture, governance and children’s health across the region.

He died on June 22nd 2017 aged 91.

(the Independent 27/6; BBC News 23/7)

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

BOTSWANA: Spat Over Vice President
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol. 51, Issue. 11, Pp. 20344A–20344C

BOTSWANA: Khama Wins
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol. 51, Issue. 10, Pp. 20308C–20309B

Botswana: Inquiry into Opposition Leader’s Death
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol. 51, Issue. 8, Pp. 20242B

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Madagascar – Drought Raises Food Security Fears

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Adverse weather patterns lead to crop failures and increased hardship for large swathes of the Malagasy agricultural and transhumant population.

According to a recent United Nations (UN) report, around 46% of the population in Madagascar, some 1.9 million people, are food insecure with almost half a million facing chronic food shortages. The Crop and Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM), an initiative from the Malagasy government, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP), identified the highest levels of food insecurity in the southern regions of Androy, Anosy and Atsimo Andrefana.

The UN stated that a significant drop in agricultural production over the last three seasons, largely due to a shortage of rainfall, has negatively affected many people, who have often responded by selling off assets and withdrawing children from school to overcome food shortages.

A number of programmes intended to eliminate hunger, improve nutrition and to promote sustainable agriculture have recently been announced. The WFP said that they would be assisting 130,000 people with a ‘food/cash-for-assets‘ scheme which are designed to improve resilience and to prepare communities for the next harvest season; those that are unable to work will be distributed food, reported a WFP press release.

The FAO have announced a ‘drought-resistant seed’ as an emergency response mechanism to ensure the replanting of over 6000 hectares of land for 13,000 households in Androy and Anosy regions. The FAO added that it had eradicated a plague of locusts that had afflicted crops between 2013-14, with help from the Malagasy government,reported the UN News Service.

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(Madagascar – Agricultural Map: www.amadeusvanillabeans.com)

Earlier on October 21st the Malagasy government and the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) signed an agreement in Rome for finance to support the Project to Support Development (AD2M-II) in the Menabe and Melaky regions to the cost of around US$56.7 million, reported an IFAD press release.

AD2M-II aims to improve the incomes and the food security of smallholders by improving and developing irrigated agriculture and natural resource management approaches. Sana F.K. Jatta, IFAD Regional Director for the East and Southern Africa Division added that it “It will also address land tenure security and safeguarding the land rights of smallholders so that they can investment more in their land and increase their incomes”.

Much of Southern Madagascar has been afflicted by a drought, which has lasted for almost a year and led to the deaths of a number of people, while also destroying livelihoods of the agricultural population. The Mayor of Anjapaly, Bernard Tolia, said that “the death rate varies from two to 10 per day due to drought in our area”.

“It has been almost a year since we saw the last rain. People have to travel 15 kilometres, often on foot, to find drinking water. Livestock is suffering and die while cultivation is impossible due to drought,” Tolia added, cited by the Namibian.

The General-Director of Meteorology in Madagascar, Samueline Rarahiveloarimiza, blamed the drought on the El Niño weather phenomenon, stating that while the southern regions are experiencing little rain, other regions may be inundated with rainfall.

Countries identified by the UN, WFP and FAO as most at risk are Malawi, Madagascar and Zimbabwe, all already suffering extensive crop failures, and there are also concerns in Lesotho, and parts of Angola and Mozambique. Malawi is facing its worst food insecurity for a decade with 2.8m at risk coupled by widespread floods.

The WFP stated that solutions would have to involve ‘drought-resilient crops’ such as cassava, sweet potatoes, sorghum and millet and supplementary irrigation in order to cope with prolonged dry spells. The WFP also said it would be monitoring the food price situation in the countries which is likely to cause further hardship if they were to rise, reported a WFP report.

At the beginning of October, the Malagasy government urged the UN to take steps towards a meaningful agreement at the upcoming UN Climate talks in Paris in December. Malagasy President Hery Martial Rajaonarimampianina Rakotoarimanana said that it was important to recognise that developing countries are not the main parties responsible for climate change, although they pay much of the price; he stated that Madagascar is systematically suffering from the consequences of climate change, destroying efforts towards social and economic progress, reported the UN News Service.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

Cereals: Southern Africa
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.52, Issue.6, Pp.20896C–20897B

Southern Africa: Devastating Floods
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.52, Issue.1, Pp.20704C–20706C

Madagascar: Locust Plague
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.50, Issue.6, Pp.20014C–20015A

Subscribe to the Africa Research Bulletin today