Dr. Margaret Sikwese becomes the 54th President of the Rotary Club of Lilongwe for the year 2022 to 2023 following her induction over the weekend.
Acknowledging the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on its ability to raise funds which forced the Club to be meeting virtually, she stated that the world now faces the Ukrainian war which has affected food supply chains and other necessities.
As if the impact of the global pandemic were not enough, Malawi is now dealing the resurgence of Polio and she informed the gathering that the charity grouping has already embarked on intensive campaigns to overcome it.
In her acceptance speech following her induction as the Club’s President, Sikwese spoke about her passion on maternal health.
“When we look back, some services meant for women and girls were put on hold in order to deal with the pandemic, for example Fistula services. For one year, Bwaila Hospital closed down the Fistula services centre to focus on COVID-19. This should have created a backlog.
“In addition, my conversations with the Head of Obstetrics-Gynaecology at Bwaila also revealed that they are observing an increased number of teen mothers, who are highly prone to Fistula.
“This increase can be directly linked to COVID-19 and the deteriorating economic situation in the country,” she said.
As part of its service to humanity, she pledged free dental services to disadvantaged people.
The new President who is spouse to Dr. Lucky Sikwese, Principal Secretary in the Vice President’s office also pledged education support to students who are increasingly facing challenges in accessing education.
She also spelt out projects in water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) among communities in Lilongwe.
The Club’s membership comprises the young and old and Sikwese stressed on the need for co-existence between young and old members with the old mentoring the former in both values and practices and professional leadership, coaching, internship and mentorship.
The club has also been supporting orphanages with various items including food and educational materials.
She has taken over from Vincent Sikelo who also highlighted the global pandemic as having taken a toll in the first quarter of the year with rising cases which made it difficult for them to fellowship and network and provision of tangible services to communities.
On achievements, he cited the induction of nine new members into the Club with a 33 percent increase of women.
Prof Address Malata who was the guest of honour at the event said what matters is the difference the Rotarians make in people's lives.
Among others, she lamented that the education system has a lot of challenges but nonetheless stressed that no child should drop out of school.
She disclosed that at least 15 women die from pregnancy related complications.
The Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) Vice Chancellor underscored the need to address the issue of fistula adding that maternal and child health should be prioritised in preventing needless deaths in the 21st century.
She challenged the Club to incorporate more young people on board.