The Need

78% of people in rural communities complain of low back pain or limitation on a weekly basis. (followed by the knee at 25%)

  • Majority of homes rely on farming, fishing, selling firewood or products from the garden for a source of income.
  • Basic needs of the home rely on hand washing clothes, walking an average of 2km’s for water and fetching firewood from 6+ km distances.
  • the average woman has 5.5 children (*2018)
  • the custom in Malawi commonly requires the teenage girl in the home to stand as caregiver for an elder when sick or immobilized. Often the young girl leaves school to fulfill this need.
  • the average community lives 8km from a hospital with some areas reaching up to 20km’s

Within a one month period, individuals face the following challenges due to low back limitations:

  • 48% are unable to consistently maintain daily tasks of the home.
  • 38% of individuals lose some level of income.
  • 28% of women are unable to care for their children
  • 25% of homes have an elder or patient in the home with a family member acting as caregiver (the teenage girl removed from school)
  • 76% visit the hospital in search of assistance with low back limitations

When a family member has a low back injury, many facets of life become impacted beyond physical health. Not only does the one affected face challenges but the entire household takes on the burden of added responsibilities, financial restraints or even a loss of education.

For those facing pain and limitation, the activities recognized to cause the most pain are;

  • farming
  • sweeping
  • washing clothes/dishes
  • fishing
  • cooking

As we look at the elder population, it bears noting that the average life expectancy in 1998 was 38yrs. Today this has reached 65yrs. People in Malawi are living longer and therefore; the new, aging population is facing more chronic physical issues, exacerbated by their very physical, daily life activities.