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SIHI Malawi hosted at the College of Medicine

We envision a healthier Malawi where citizen-led, equitable, effective, sustainable health systems and integrated health services are possible through social innovation. We believe that the health of all Malawians can be improved through creative and innovative solutions created by Malawians.


SIHI Malawi was launched in 2017. We are based at the University of Malawi College of Medicine (CoM), in the Department of Community Health, the largest unit within the CoM. The Department of Community Health has thriving research spanning reproductive health, health systems and financing, communicable and non-communicable diseases.


We partner with the Ministry of Health along with other key health actors and innovative organisations in Malawi. We seek to create an enabling environment for social innovation through increasing evidence and its uptake, fostering collaboration across spheres and encouraging a culture of Malawians solving their own health challenges.


We envision a healthier Malawi where citizen-led, equitable, effective, sustainable health systems and integrated health services are possible through social innovation. We believe that the health of all Malawians can be improved through creative and innovative solutions created by Malawians


Our focus areas are:



We identify social innovations in Malawi, study them to understand how the  our healthcare system can be  strengthened through social  innovation



We provide a platform for all individuals and organisations interested in social innovation to network, share and collaborate.



We recognise, promote and build skills of innovators and citizen-led ideas that can improve the health of Malawians.


Innovation identification call

In 2017 and 2018, we conducted two public open calls to identify locally driven community based innovations and to support the creation of a culture of Malawians innovating for  health. The call focus was on:  improving maternal and child health, and  improving healthcare  delivery in Malawi. 41 submissions were received. Each submission were evaluated by an independent expert review panel. Three finalists were chosen for indepth case study research.


LEARN more about our calls & see 2019 call dates.

Case study research

In 2018; we conducted site visits, data collection, filming of innovations of call finalists – Chipatala Cha Pa Foni by Ministry of Health and Village Reach, Community-Based Health Insurance by Kaundu Health Centre a Christian Health Association of Malawi facility and a Sustainable and Affordable Rural Healthcare System – Rural Healthcare Prototype by Child Legacy International. We learned in depth about these projects and identified key health system lessons. These innovators were awarded by the Ministry of Health and University of Malawi.


Learn more about the case studies below.


In collaboration with Youth Net and Counselling, and the Medical Students’ Association of Malawi, we hosted the first annual Social Innovation in Health Case Competition. This competition provided 40-students with a unique, hands-on learning experience in developing innovative solutions to a real-life complex healthcare challenge. Participating colleges included College of Medicine, the Polytechnic, Kamuzu College of Nursing, College of Health Sciences and Malawi College of Accountancy. A series of workshops were hosted to guide students through a process of developing a solution, followed by expert input from mentors and a pitching day supported by judges from academia, the public and private sector. Next steps for the winning team include further support to conduct research.


WATCH our case competition video

Student Research Grants

As part of establishing a social innovation research agenda and building an evidence base and capacity for social innovation in health research, we made a call for student research proposals. The call was open to students who participated in the Cross-University Case Competition. The awarded students will be twinned to a leading researcher across colleges and social innovators.


In 2018, we hosted our first international intern in social innovation. Ms Ewen Liu, an environmental sciences student from North Carolina University in the USA joined us for 8-weeks. Through her internship with SIHI Malawi, she was able to gain first-hand experience in social innovation within the Malawian context and become involved in our activities.


If you are interested in conducting an internship with us, contact us.



On 12 December 2018, we hosted a SIHI Innovators Meeting and Lunch Symposium. The focus of this event was to foster closer relationship between innovators and our team. Innovators shared their learning and lessons, networked, and provided input to SIHI Malawi’s future strategic planning and the establishment of of collective vision. As part of the lunch symposium a moderated discussion on the value of community based social innovation in healthcare was conducted , panellists included representatives from 2018 solution call finalists Child Legacy International, Kaundu Community Based Health Insurance, College of Medicine and SIHI Malawi. The lunch symposium also provided a forum to unite key health system actors including UN agencies, researchers, government departments, international and Local NGOs, innovators and university officials.


On 30 – 31 May 2018, we co-hosted a workshop to support the development of a research guidance for social innovators with the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Disease. The workshop brought together over 40-participants from 11-countries, including researchers, innovators, university and ministry of health officials, international NGOs, SIHI partners, TDR staff, development partners, members of the national assembly, among others. In addition, the Annual SIHI Partner Network meeting took place directly ahead of the workshop on 28 – 29 May 2018.

READ & DOWNLOAD the Co-creating a Research Guidance for Social Innovation workshop report.



SIHI Malawi Director

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Don is a medical doctor and epidemiologist with broad research interests in infectious diseases. He is an Associate Professor in Public Health at the College of Medicine University of Malawi. He is also Director at the Malaria Alert Center, a regional resource center specializing in building capacity, through research, for scaling up effective health interventions. He started his career in public health by working as District Health Officer in Malawi and over the last 20 years he has conducted research aimed at understanding the best methods for reducing childhood morbidity and mortality. As the winner of the 2012 Kenneth Warren Prize, he is a recognized Cochrane Review author who recently was appointed as a key mentor for African researchers interested in systematic reviews by the South African Cochrane Centre. Based on his work and interest in evidence based health care, Don is on several World Health Organization efficacy groups which include: the IPTp and LLINs Evidence Review Groups and the Monitoring and Evaluation Review Group (MERG). He also serves as an expert on the Global Fund Technical Review Panel.

SIHI Malawi Advisor

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Atupele is a public health specialist and an epidemiologist at the Malaria Alert Centre, a research affiliate at the University of Malawi College of Medicine.


Following her completion of PhD training in Infectious Diseases Epidemiology at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA, she is based full time in Malawi conducting research. Her research focuses on Malaria, HIV and maternal and child health. She has been involved in large studies in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and reputable national and international institutions including a large four years WHO funded PMTCT cluster-randomized clinical trial as a co-investigator evaluating several PMTCT care models aimed at improving uptake, retention and health outcomes for mothers and infants in PMTCT option B+ programme in Malawi. She was awarded a CIPHER grant by International Aids Society to conduct a pharmaco-vigilance study to evaluate safety in infants exposed to antiretroviral drugs through breastmilk given to mothers during breastfeeding in the PMTCT Option B+ programme in Malawi. Having previously worked as a district health officer in the second-largest district in Malawi for 3 years, she continues working and collaborating with the public health sectorto improve implementation of health programmes in Malawi.


Atupele is also working to advance health research in Malawi especially among women and youth. She pioneered establishment of “Women in Infectious Disease and Health Research Network in Malawi (WIDREM)”, a national network for advancement of research careers for women involved in health research with funding from WHO-TDR. She is an honorary faculty member in the Community Health Department at the University of Malawi’s College of Medicine teaching and supervising postgraduate and undergraduate medical and allied health sciences students.

SIHI Malawi Manager

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Barwani Msiska has over seven years’ experience in coordinating development programs, health systems strengthening for adolescent and reproductive health/ family planning programs in the public sector and academia settings in Malawi and USA.


She has led efforts in repositioning adolescent reproductive health as a key pathway to managing development and the development of the costed multi-sectoral five-year National Youth Friendly Health Services Strategy 2015-2020. She has experience in project start-up and localization of initiatives such as the Malawi’s family planning 2020 commitments that aim to increase contraceptive prevalence rate to 60% by 2020 which resulted in a higher family planning budget line within the national health budget and increased local solutions for expanded access to long acting reversible contraceptives during the 2013-2015 budget periods. She has conducted health systems and implementation science research on youth friendly health services, long acting reversible contraception in Malawi and Immediate Postpartum Long Acting Reversible Contraception Programs in Georgia, USA facilitating adapting of best practices by other states and hospitals across the USA.

SIHI Malawi Researcher

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Vincent Jumbe is a Lecturer in the Department of Health Systems and Policy under the school of Public Health and Family Medicine at College of Medicine, the University of Malawi.


He is a health social scientist with firm academic grounding in the areas of Public Health, Bioethics (at masters’ level) and Global Health focusing on Health Systems and Policy at PhD level. His current research efforts focus on HIV prevention among key populations which include People Living with HIV, female sex workers, people who use drugs, men who have sex with men and Transgender persons. He is also interested in Malaria and TB prevention research. Apart from lecturing, conducting research and interfacing with policy makers, Vincent is also a Course Director for the Master of Science in Global Health Implementation (Msc-GHI) being offered at College of Medicine, Department of Health Systems and Policy. His current interest is to map pathways from incubation to uptake of social innovations in the health system and how these innovations are or ought to be sustained over time.






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If you are interested to become part of SIHI Malawi or join our activities, please contact:


Ms Barwani Msiska – SIHI Malawi Project Manager