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Press Release: Malawi Demographic and Health Survey 2000 preliminary report

The National Statistical Office (NSO) wishes to advise the general public that the preliminary results of the Malawi Demographic and Health Survey 2000 (MDHS 2000) are out.

The MDHS 2000 is a national-level sample survey that was designed to provide information on demographic trends and indicators of maternal and child health in Malawi. Specifically, the survey results have provided up-to-date information on fertility, childhood mortality, marriage, fertility preferences, awareness and use of family planning methods, infant nutrition, maternal and child health, maternal mortality and HIV/AIDS. The preliminary findings are intended to provide policymakers and programme managers with a glimpse at the salient findings from the survey.

The provisional results provide evidence of a fertility decline and an increase in the use of family planning methods during the past decade or so. The results also indicate that, although still high, infant and under-five mortality have been improving during the 1990s. 

The MDHS 2000 data indicate that since the early 1990s, fertility in Malawi has declined by 6 percent from 6.73 around 1992 to 6.35 around the year 2000. The mean number of children ever born to women aged 45-49 of 7.0 was higher than the current total fertility rate of 6.35, supporting an earlier observation that fertility in Malawi is declining. 

The data further reveal that about 97 percent of all women in Malawi know of a modern method of family planning compared to only 66 percent who only know a traditional method. However, despite the universal knowledge of family planning methods in Malawi only about 25 percent of all women and 31 percent of all currently married women use a family planning method. Further, 26 and 5 percent of all currently married women were currently using a modern and a traditional method respectively. The data furthermore reveal that the Injection, used by 16 percent of all currently married women was the most widely used modern method. Female Sterilization (5 percent), Pill (3 percent) and Condom (2 percent) were also more commonly used than the other modern methods among currently married women. Use of condoms, however, decreased with age of women. On the other hand, Female Sterilization became increasingly popular with age of the women. As probably expected, use of modern methods increased with woman’s education. About 42 percent of currently married women with secondary education or higher were currently using a modern method compared with 22 percent among their counterparts who had never attended any formal school.

The data also reveal that 38 percent of currently married women in Malawi did not want to bear any more children and a further 37 percent wanted to have at least one child but after 2 years or more. Thus around three-quarters (75 percent) of married women aged 15-49 wish to either space their next birth or end childbearing altogether, suggesting a strong unmet need or potential need for family planning. 

The data also indicate that early childhood mortality, although improving, is still high in Malawi. The results reveal that the under-five mortality in Malawi was 189 deaths per 1000 live births. This means that almost one in five children born in Malawi failed to celebrate his/her fifth birth day. The Infant Mortality Rate stood at 104 deaths per 1000 live births- thus about one in ten live births failed to reach their first birthday. Child mortality rate of 95 per 1000 live births also shows that almost one in ten live born children who survived to age one failed to reach age 5. The data furthermore indicates that about 40 percent of all infant deaths in Malawi occurred within their first month (neo-natal mortality rate was 42 per 1000 live births) of birth. 

In the Survey, heights and weights of children under age 5 were measured in order to estimate levels of their nutritional status. The results show that 49 percent of under-five children were stunted; i.e too short for their age, and 6 percent were wasted (too thin); i.e weighed too little for their height. Similar results were obtained in the 1992 MDHS. The data show that children living in rural areas of Malawi were twice as likely to be stunted as children living in urban areas. Similarly, a child whose mother had no formal education was about three times more likely to be severely stunted than a child whose mother attended secondary school or higher.

The preliminary findings further show that 82 percent of last born children were borne by mothers who had received tetanus toxoid injections during pregnancy in order to prevent their infants from dying of neonatal tetanus. The results also indicate that 70 percent of the children aged 12-23 months had received full series of vaccinations compared with 82 percent in 1992.

The results show that 93 percent of last births received some antenatal care from a trained professional- 84 percent by nurses/midwives and about 8 percent by doctors. Doctors or nurse/midwives assisted at the delivery of around 56 percent of all recent births in Malawi. In urban areas, doctors and nurses/midwives assisted at the delivery of 82 percent of recent births compared with 52 percent in rural areas.

The data also indicate that only 5 percent of women and 14 percent of men who had sexual intercourse during the 12-month period prior to the survey used a condom during their last sexual meeting with any partner. The use of condoms was more prevalent during sexual intercourse with non-cohabiting partners than with their spouses. About 29 percent of women and 39 percent of men used a condom at last sexual intercourse with non-cohabiting partners. 

The survey also collected information on ownership of mosquito bednets. About 13 percent of the households in Malawi owned one or more bednets. The average number of bednets per household was 1.6. Of the underfive children in Malawi, only 8 percent slept under a bednet the night prior to the survey. In urban areas, almost one in five (20 percent) underfive children slept under a bednet the night prior to the survey compared to only 6 percent in rural areas.

The Survey findings unveil the fact that about 9 percent of all children aged 5-14 years were working for non-relatives and two-thirds of these worked for no pay. Around 19 percent of them worked in the family business or on the family farm. Also noteworthy is the fact that 44 percent of the children worked 4 hours or more of domestic work per day.

The final substantive results are expected to be out sometime in August 2001. The final figures are not expected to differ substantially from the preliminary results. Please note that a copy of the MDHS 2000 Preliminary Report is also available on our website: www.nso.malawi.net

For any further inquiries please write to:

The Commissioner for Census and Statistics, P. O. Box 333, Zomba 
Phone: 524 805, 524 353, 544 377, 524 111, Fax: 525 130, E-mail:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



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