The 2004 Malawian Demographic Health Survey (MDHS) data indicate that despite an impressive 43 percent decline in mortality rates among children under 5 since the 2000 MDHS (from 234 per 1,000 to 133 per 1,000), malnutrition has remained widespread and immunization coverage has continued to fall.
Half of children under 5 are stunted, or too short for their age, one of the world’s highest levels. Between 1992 and 2004, the percentage of children 12-23 months who have received all of the recommended vaccines (BCG, measles and 3 doses for Polio and DPT) has declined from 82 percent to 64 percent.
During that same period, fertility has declined slowly from an average of 6.7 to 6.0 children per woman. Meanwhile, the rapid increase in contraceptive use among married women from 7 percent in 1992 to 26 percent in 2000 has stalled. It is estimated to be 28 percent in 2004.
The survey indicated that 12 percent of adults are HIV-positive, with women more likely than men to be infected.
Urban residents are also more likely to be infected with HIV than their rural counterparts (17 and 11 percent, respectively). Prevalence is highest among women (18 percent) and men (20 percent) age 30-34.
The survey also explored domestic violence issues for the first time in Malawi at the national level. Three in 10 women have ever experienced emotional, physical or sexual violence from their husbands. Spousal violence is directly related to use of alcohol.