Our Work in Africa: Malawi


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A key strategy of the Government of Malawi, through the Department of Nutrition and HIV/AIDS, Office of the President and Cabinet, has been to develop nutrition interventions targeting the first 24-month period of the life cycle. These interventions include maternal nutrition, infant and young child feeding practices, water, sanitation and hygiene. These interventions are within the National Nutrition Policy and Strategic Pan of Malawi released in 2010. In 2012 the Nutrition Innovation Lab was awarded buy-in funds for capacity building in nutrition.  An Associate Award was then granted at the December 2014 to continue these activities.  The aim of the Nutrition Innovation Lab work is to build pre-service capacity in Malawi which will in turn, build trained nutrition experts to scale to carry out the Government’s interventions.

We are partnering with Bunda College of LUANAR University, the College of Medicine, and several  Ministries of the Government of Malawi.

The Nutrition Innovation Lab has undertaken the following activities in Malawi:

  • Curriculum Review of nutrition in higher education, as requested by the Ministry of Health
  • Assisting with establishment of a dietetics program at Bunda College, in collaboration with the College of Medicine and other partners
  • Faculty development at Bunda College
  • Construction of new Malawi-specific food composition tables, with assistance from FAO

The Dietetics Program at LUANAR has been accredited and student admission begins in 2016!

Program Background:

Malawi has been a leader in recognizing and targeting nutrition for priority actions.   However, an emerging trend in Malawi is the increased risk of overweight and obesity. A review of the DHS 2010 indicates that 28% of urban women aged 15-49 are either overweight or obese compared to 14% of rural women. A preliminary literature review shows that chronic non-communicable diseases and their risk factors are emerging public health problems. A recently published study examined the prevalence of smoking, alcohol consumption, overweight and obesity, hypertension, fasting blood glucose, and cholesterol levels. It found a third of the adult population aged 25-64 years either had elevated blood pressure or were on anti-hypertensive medications, 5.6% had raised fasting blood glucoses (hyperglycemia) or were taking medication for it, and 8.7% had high cholesterol values. Another study has reported prevalence rates of 13.6% for diabetes mellitus, 4.4% for ischaemic heart disease, and 6.1% for strokes in the adult population aged 30-69 years.

In order to address these problems within the country of Malawi, the Nutrition Innovation Lab, partnered with the College of Medicine and the Lilongwe University of Agriculture & Natural Resources (LUANAR) has developed the country’s first clinical dietetics program.

Program Curriculum:

  • Fundamentals of Medical Nutrition Therapy
  •  Nutritional Biochemistry
  • Medical Nutrition Therapy
  • Nutrition Counseling and Behavior Change
  • Nutritional Epidemiology
  • Biometric Research Methods and Design
  • Nutritional Biochemistry: Micronutrients
  • Global Nutrition Programmes
  • Biostatistical Data Analysis
  • Medical Professionalism
  • Food Service Management
  • Community Nutrition


Read More about Accreditation


Assisting an East African “Neighbour” in compiling a country-specific food composition database: a preliminary review from SAFoods

Authors: Joelaine Chetty; Averalda Van Graan; Malory Links; Agnes Mwangwola; Sitilitha Masangwi; Shibani Ghosh; Elizabeth Marino-Costello April 2017
This poster details the need for country-specifc food composition tables and preliminary efforts to create one for the country of Malawi.

Nutrition Innovation Lab Annual Reports- Year 5

Authors: Nutrition Innovation Lab December 2015
The following are the annual reports of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Nutrition for the fiscal year 2015 starting October 2014 through September 2015 (“Y5”). The Nutrition Innovation Lab seeks to discover how investments in agriculture can be enhanced to accelerate gains in nutrition, and how policy and program interventions can more effectively integrated to cost-effectively achieve improvements in maternal and child nutrition at scale. It also pursues innovative research at the frontiers of biology and policy, such as exploring the Continue reading →

Update on the Nutrition Innovation Lab Approach

Authors: Jeffrey Griffiths April 2015
Presentation given by Dr. Jeff Griffiths for USAID Malawi, April 15, 2015

Molly Uebele

Country Contact and Supervising Dietitian
P.O. Box 219,

Agnes Mbachi Mwangwela, PhD

Senior Lecturer in Food Science and Dean
Faculty of Food and Human Sciences
P.O. Box 219,

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