Thousands of women across Malawi told us that “privacy and confidentiality” in care was their top demand for their health. One reason for this need is that women and birthing people across the country are often forced to give birth with no privacy – and sometimes in very public spaces.
These women’s voices shone a light on the overlooked issue of privacy. As a result, in 2018 advocates were able to influence the Ministry of Health’s national guidelines on the construction and renovation of public health facilities to require that maternity wings install delivery cubicles with bathrooms and toilets for privacy. Cubicles are now designed to accommodate the woman and her baby, a birth companion, and a midwife.
The new guideline means that any new construction of maternity units must include private delivery cubicles, and advocates confirm implementation is occurring, with recent verification of the installation of delivery cubicles at the Chitipa District Hospital. In Chitipa, the maternity wing upgrades are also helping to increase the number of male partners attending birth. In Dowa, Zomba, and Chitipa districts, a midwife champion has successfully advocated for installation of privacy curtains in health facilities there as well.