By Vincent Khonje MANA
Deputy Minister of Health, Halima Daudi, says if Malawi can continue its current efforts in combating Tuberculosis (TB), the country will be able to eradicate the disease by 2030.
Daudi said this on Friday during the commemoration of World TB Day at Kamphata School in Traditional Authority Mkanda in Mchinji District.
The day was commemorated together with the Leprosy Day which falls on the last Sunday of January each year since all the diseases fall under the National TB and Leprosy Elimination Programme.
The deputy minister said at the moment, Malawi continues to register a reduction in the number of people suffering from TB with the efforts being made.
“Through collaborative efforts with all partners and stakeholders, the ministry has registered significant success in the fight against TB.
“For the past six years, the Treatment Success Rate (TSR) for all forms of TB has increased from 82 per cent in 2015 to 90 per cent in 2021,” explained the deputy minister.
She further stated that the proportion of TB patients co-infected with HIV has reduced from 77 per cent in 2003 to 48 per cent in 2022 and that the treatment success rate for Drug-Resistant TB has increased from 55 per cent in 2018 to 78 per cent in 2020.
However, according to Daudi, the picture of leprosy is not rosy as despite having attained leprosy elimination status in 1994, Malawi has seen an upsurge in leprosy cases over the past two years, as it reported 612 cases in 2022.
Ishmael Nyasulu, World Health Organisation (WHO) National Professional Officer who represented the organisation’s Resident Representative said the commemoration of the two diseases is to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of both TB and Leprosy, and to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic as well as to sustain the leprosy elimination status.
Nyasulu said as far as TB is concerned, 2023 is critical, with several opportunities to raise visibility and political commitment, citing the 2023 UN high-level meeting on TB at the UN General Assembly in September which will bring together heads of state, making it an opportunity to mobilise political and social commitment that can be translated into action.
He also said there will be WHO Director-General’s Flagship Initiative to fast-track progress towards ending TB over the period 2023-2027, which will focus on universal access to prevention, care, and the latest tools and technologies to combat TB on the road to Universal Health Coverage (UHC).