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Grace Mzumara (cohort 2019-2020) co-authored this paper analysing the health public response to the COVID pandemic and identifying gaps in the response in need of improvement.

Grace was inspired by the MSc IHTM health systems and policy week module, when she wrote this paper.

She drew on the lessons learned by this module to create the framework for this analysis.


  • Malawi used a multisectoral approach to address health and socioeconomic aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This process successfully increased the COVID-19 testing capacity but, its complexities included resistance to some policies and unintended consequences.

  • There was resistance to a stringent lockdown policy which demonstrated the need for epidemic response policies to be supported by public health laws and to mitigate both direct and indirect impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in Malawi.

  • Unintended consequences of the response policies included introducing remote learning to public education. A negative unintended consequence included an increase in teenage pregnancies during the school closure period.

  • There is need to revise the Malawi public health act to reflect the current evidence on epidemic response, and to support frameworks that strengthen surveillance, health infrastructure and health information systems to manage the current and future epidemics.

Read the analysis on the health policy response to COVID-19 in Malawi on the BMJ global health website.