A woman and four children sit outside of a small brick home in rural Africa.
A family sits outside their home in the Diocese of Karonga, Malawi. Many families in rural communities do not have access to even basic health services — but the Church is working to change that!

Sharing Hope and Health Care Through the Church in Malawi

Despite making some economic improvements in recent years, Malawi remains one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world (World Bank, CIA World Factbook). Many of the nation’s impoverished families — particularly those in remote, rural communities — lack access to critical necessities, including lifesaving medical services.

Tucked far away from larger cities, many of these families have been battling sickness and pain in silence for years. They are unable to reach or afford the health treatments they so desperately need — but in an answer to prayer, the Catholic Church is striving to remove those barriers and bless many lives!

Working with the Diocese of Karonga, Malawi, and generous Catholics throughout the U.S., we can relieve the suffering of the poor and share the mercy of Christ through quality medical care.

A woman kneels beside a stream.
A woman in Malawi kneels beside a small body of water. Unprotected sources such as this are often contaminated and inflict myriad diseases.

Malawi Faces a Health Crisis

The World Bank reports that more than 70% of Malawi’s population lives below the international poverty line of $1.90 per day. About 80% of the people live in rural areas, which are more likely to lack developed infrastructure such as health clinics and hospitals (as well as access to nutritious food and clean, abundant water). As such, the poor must contend with a variety of health issues, including malnutrition and waterborne diseases such as diarrhea and cholera. In fact, flooding caused by Tropical Storm Ana and Cyclone Gombe recently instigated a devastating cholera outbreak that has claimed hundreds of lives.

The top five causes of death in Malawi are:

  1. HIV/AIDS.
  2. Neonatal disorders.
  3. Lower respiratory infections.
  4. Tuberculosis.
  5. Diarrheal diseases.

Without adequate medical services to treat such maladies, even minor infections and injuries can turn deadly. There is only about one physician available for every 25,000 people in the nation, and there is only one hospital bed available for every 1,300 patients. Shortages such as these put precious lives at risk and create unnecessary suffering.

Since 2019, Cross Catholic Outreach has partnered with the Diocese of Karonga to meet urgent needs for clean water in northern Malawi, and today we are working to expand the diocese’s life-transforming outreaches among the poor. Catholic leaders in the region have a vision to reach the sick and needy through much-needed mobile clinics — but to bring their merciful plan to fruition, the Church will need to work in unity!

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Headshot of Bishop Martin Anwel Mtumbuka.
In the Diocese of Karonga, Bishop Mtumbuka is striving to share Christ’s love and mercy with unreached communities in dire need.

A Catholic Bishop’s Vision for Healing

The Diocese of Karonga is the newest diocese in Malawi. Its territory was once part of the Diocese of Mzuzu — but that diocese was so large and its communities were so widespread that serving the population had become a real challenge. To better evangelize and address the needs of the people, Catholic leaders divided the Diocese of Mzuzu into two smaller parts. Out of their heartfelt desire to reach underserved families with the Gospel and critical services, the Diocese of Karonga was established in 2010.

His Excellency Martin Anwel Mtumbuka has served as bishop of Karonga since its inception, and it was under his leadership the diocese adopted its motto, “We shall go to them.” Lake Malawi is east of the diocese, and there are mountains to the west, so many of the local communities are difficult to access. Still, Bishop Mtumbuka remains committed to reaching those brothers and sisters in deepest need. To achieve that, he has sent missionaries to visit, encourage and assess the needs of struggling communities. He also goes himself to worship with the people and let them know that they are seen and loved by God.

Through his experiences, Bishop Mtumbuka has learned that spiritual outreach and humanitarian efforts to meet the material needs of the poor must go hand in hand. He has seen the challenges of the people up close, and he knows that the hardships created by poverty must be addressed in order for effective evangelism to take place.

“A number of popes have reminded us, again and again, to help people in an integral way — not only because this is the creation of the popes, but [of] our Lord himself. That’s what he did. He asked for faith from those he interacted with — to believe in him [as the] Son of God and their Savior — but he also fed the hungry and healed the sick, and it is an invitation to all of us to do the same,” the bishop said. “You can’t just go there and start talking about God when people have not eaten, many of them are sick, there’s a funeral one day after another, and children are dying. You just can’t.”

Bishop Mtumbuka listed the lack of health services as one of the most critical issues facing his people. Cross Catholic Outreach has been working with him and his staff to address Karonga’s urgent need for quality medical care. With help from generous benefactors throughout the U.S., we can help the diocese heal bodies and save lives — while also preparing hearts to receive eternal healing through Christ’s love.

Annie Brighton with her children. By supporting the creation of a mobile health clinic, you can guarantee vital health services for patients with disabilities and various noncommunicable illnesses.

How American Catholics Can Promote Health in Malawi

Cross Catholic Outreach’s Wells of Salvation campaign was launched to address the hardships faced by poor families in the Diocese of Karonga, Malawi (as well as in the Diocese of Wa, Ghana, and the Diocese of Chipata, Zambia). In total, we hope to drill 69 clean water wells, build four safe school buildings, provide nutritional support for 250 families and offer many other blessings — including improved access to medical care.

Empowered by the campaign, the Diocese of Karonga will be able to create a mobile clinic capable of offering medical screenings, preventative health education and treatment to 2,500 people in three operational areas. This mobile health clinic will employ a professional clinician, nurse and counselor to address issues such as hypertension, anemia and other noncommunicable diseases that so frequently plague the poor. When necessary, the clinic will also be able to refer and transport patients to larger facilities for more advanced treatment.

“The mobile clinic is very important,” Bishop Mtumbuka expressed. “This will enable us to be able to assist people who need to be brought to the hospitals and the clinics in the diocese.”

Malawi’s sick and injured need our help! Some of them have waited many years for a solution to their pain — and we believe Christ wants to answer their prayers through his Church.

Your generous gift today will help deliver that hope and healing in rural Malawi. It will equip merciful health professionals and empower their outreaches to the poor — assuring our suffering brothers and sisters that they are cherished by God and providing them with the life-transforming help they desperately need.

Proceeds from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures incurred through June 30, 2024, the close of our ministry’s fiscal year. In the event that more funds are raised than needed to fully fund the project, the excess funds, if any, will be used to meet the most urgent needs of the ministry.