Parent and Child Initiative - Kamuzu Central Hospital & Ministry of Health (PACHI), Malawi


 The Parent and Child Health Initiative (PACHI) is a local NGO registered in Malawi and works in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the paediatrics department at Kamuzu Central Hospital. PACHI's goal is to develop and promote evidence-based decisions on maternal and child health issues. They do this by developing research capacity in Malawi through an inter-disciplinary program of excellence in research as well as through getting evidence into policy and practice. Through its technical advisors and its senior board members (representing academic institutions and MoH, Malawi), PACHI is well linked to other maternal and newborn health projects in the country, the Malawian Ministry of Health and the University of Malawi.

PACHI is supported by the Centre for International Health & Development, Institute of Child Health, UCL, through a Wellcome Trust grant. PACHI acts as an umbrella organization for three well established community health research sites across five districts (Mchinji, Kasungu, Lilongwe, Salima and Ntcheu) in the central region of Malawi. Through this set-up PACHI is implementing a range of community-based interventions to improve mother and child health and to reduce mortality. World-class research is being carried out in the fields of epidemiology, health economics, anthropology and health systems with a well established surveillance systems covering a population of 320,000 (MaiKhanda in Kasungu, Lilongwe and Salima) and 160,000 (MaiMwana in Mchinji) to measure maternal and child mortality. The research comprises three distinct projects:

1. MaiMwana Project in Mchinji;

2. MaiKhanda Project in Kasungu, Lilongwe and Salima; and

3. Perinatal Project in Ntcheu

Through the MaiMwana Project, randomized controlled trials were initiated in Malawi in 2003. The Infant Feeding Care and Counselling intervention was initiated in 2005 in 24 clusters using 72 Volunteer MaiMwana Counsellors. The aim of this intervention was to improve mother and child health through promoting appropriate maternal and child care and care-seeking behaviour with the focus on exclusive breastfeeding and avoiding early and abrupt cessation. The project evaluation conducted in 2009 indicated that the Infant Feeding Care and Counselling intervention increased exclusive breastfeeding and improved a range of breastfeeding behaviour. The intervention also reduced maternal and infant morbidity. Following this evaluation the MaiMwana Project was scaled up and expanded its focus on a range of key care practices such as complementary feeding and child care and nutrition beyond infancy.

PACHI intends to link up with the University of Malawi to develop a strategy for PACHI's academic engagement with the University, including the establishment of a PhD programme, in order to build strong research capacities within the country.

Advocacy, knowledge management and strengthening health systems are some of the key areas of PACHI's work in future.