The Republic of Malawi is a landlocked country in southeast Africa, formerly known as Nyasaland, surrounded by Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique (read more on Wikipedia). Its size is over 118.000 km2, similar to the US state of Pennsylvania and three times the size of The Netherlands. The Malawian population is more than 15 million, like Holland or Florida. The name Malawi, "The Warm Heart of Africa", comes from the Maravi, an old name of the Nyanja people who inhabited the area. Malawi’s capital is Lilongwe, the second largest city is Blantyre. The Queen Elisabeth Hospital, where we plan to work, is located there. Malawi is democratic, with a multi-party government, currently under the leadership of President mrs Joyce Banda. The economy substantially depends on the influx of economic assistance from the IMF, the World Bank, and individual donor countries. Due to the worldwide financial crisis, the economic situation has worsened and Malawi is now the 7th poorest country in the world. Many families still lack access to sufficient basic healthcare. Hunger is a widespread problem. Life expectancy is estimated at 51 in Malawi, especially due to the high prevalence of HIV and AIDS. One out of three adults is HIV positive and 700,000 children are now orphans because their parents have died of AIDS-related illnesses. Malawi is number 11 on the world’s ranking list of infant mortality rates: 80 deaths for 1,000 births (see source).
In Malawi there is 1 doctor per 50,000 people. Consider, in comparison, that the average Western country has 1 doctor per 350 people. In all of Malawi there are merely 2 psychiatrists--to serve the entire country.