The city of Blantyre is situated in the southern region of the Republic of Malawi. For many years, it was Malawi’s most important city, until Lilongwe became the capital city in 1975.
Local public healthcare is extremely basic and unable to meet the needs of the people satisfactorily. Equipment is inadequate, there are often shortages of medical supplies and staffing levels are far too low to provide a good standard of service. Power shortages can also be a problem. The Malawi College of Medicine and the Kamuzu College of Nursing both have locations in Blantyre, but even with medical training being conducted locally, it can be hard to retain personnel to work in Blantyre once they have qualified. Illnesses and medical conditions such as HIV, TB and malaria are common in Malawi. Other issues include high infant mortality rates and very high levels of death in childbirth compared with the developed world.
It is essential that you take out a comprehensive private healthcare plan if you are planning to move to Blantyre. You should register with a private doctor as soon as you arrive in Blantyre. The city’s main private hospital is Mwaimathu Hospital . The hospital is just a short journey away from the airport, which is convenient for patients who need to be transferred to hospitals elsewhere, such as South Africa, for more advanced medical care.
The government aims to provide free primary education to all children in Malawi, but this is subject to the availability of teachers and the capacity of classrooms, both of which are in short supply. Expats usually choose to send their children to private schools, such as Saint Andrew's International Primary School in Blantyre or Phoenix International Primary School, both of which follow the UK school curriculum, teaching children between the ages of two and 12 years. Saint Andrew's International High School provides education for older children, and prepares students for GCSE, iGCSE and A Level examinations. All of these schools teach children from a wide variety of nationalities, with subjects taught in English.
The main alternatives to attending international school in Blantyre are home education or attending boarding school elsewhere, such as the elite Kamuzu Academy, situated in the central region of Malawi, and often referred to as the Eton of Africa.
Crime rates in Blantyre are not as high as in some countries in Africa, but muggings and burglaries do occur in some areas. Foreigners should be particularly careful in certain areas, such as around Blantyre’s bus station, and should generally avoid walking in areas where there are few people around. It is also recommended to carry only essential valuables when walking around Blantyre. Expats usually carry a photocopy of ID with them and leave originals in safe storage at home. There are high rates of car-jacking in Blantyre, so you should keep car doors locked at all times when driving in the city or elsewhere in Malawi.
Public demonstrations and strikes sometimes occur, and may involve violence. However, these types of protest are less common in Blantyre than in the capital, Lilongwe. Foreign nationals should avoid areas where a demonstration is due to take place.