March 7, 2021

MHRC welcomes State of National Disaster Declaration

The Malawi Human Rights Commission [the Commission] says it will continue to monitor and observe with concern the escalating cases of Covid-19 in the second wave which has now claimed over 76 lives in the past 10 consecutive days.

The Commission says as of 18th January 2021 Malawi had registered a total of 13,027 confirmed cases of Coronavirus, 76 still under investigation, 6,080 recoveries and 321 deaths.

It says it welcomes the decision by President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera to declare the State of National Disaster and the formulation of the Vice President led Ministerial committee to review the country’s response strategies to Covid-19 and the appeal for all stakeholders [including the development partners] to support government’s efforts in combating the pandemic.

In a statement dated 19th January 2021 signed by Ms Habiba Osman, on behalf of its Chairperson, the Commission says it learnt a lesson from the first wave of Covid-19, where persons with disabilities and those in prisons have been left behind, in leaving no one behind saying prisons are heavily congested and there is low adherence to Covid-19 measures.

The Commission is advising Government to ensure maximum accountability on Covid-19 funds, saying it should learn and get on the Ombudsman observations and recommendations on usage of Covid-19 funds by the previous government, adding an oversight body needs to be equipped to monitor the usage of these funds, including citizen–generated funds.

It says the citizens should take heed of the precautions and preventive measures stipulated by the guidelines, saying this is a call to personal responsibility, there is a need to enhance government efforts on communications at the grassroots levels coupled with enforcements.

The organization says Government should put in place measures that cushion the informal sector and the public at large including vulnerable groups especially regarding access to a decent standard of living and food security and measures that enables the right to education to be enjoyed by all children while at the same time safeguarding right to life in the context of Covid-19.

…….”Government should ensure that it act on any bureaucratic or red tape that reinforces the Covid -19 service delivery system,’’…..reads the statement in part.

The Commission says Government should put in place mechanisms to ensure that right to health is fully enjoyed by Malawians through ensuring that other critical diseases such as HIV and Aids, TB, Malaria and others are given the attention they deserve, saying it should not neglect other critical areas of public health like mental health, which is becoming a major concern due to Covid-19.

The MHRC is asking all Malawians to put on their gumboots, gloves, and do whatever they can to protect themselves and save lives, saying it, being an independent human rights institution, will continue to monitor the situation on Covid -19 in Malawi and provide necessary recommendations to Government and the public.

By Vincent Gunde

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