Malawi winning fight against TB

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Malawi is making significant progress in the fight against Tuberculosis (TB), statistics show.

According to Malawi’s Health and Population Minister Atupele Muluzi, for the past ten years the number of TB cases has fallen from a high of 28,000 in 2008 to around 17,000 last year.

Atupele Muluzi

Muluzi says the number of TB cases has fallen.

Speaking during the official opening of National Launch of World TB Day in Salima, Muluzi said the TB/HIV confection has also fallen from around a high of 77% in 2008 to 49%.

“In diagnosing patients with TB we are also able to increase the number of people we identify as testing HIV Positive. Some 97% of all HIV positive TB patients have now started ART meaning that they are able to lead an almost normal life,” he said.

Muluzi noted that a survey that the country did in 2014 revealed that people in urban areas are prone to the disease unlike the ones in rural areas and those who are aged over 45 are most heavily affected.

“At the time, it also showed that we were far from effective in reaching all of those infected with the disease. I am glad to say that things have improved significantly since then, but of course there is always more to do,” Muluzi said.

The minister also admitted that TB remains a big challenge and it continues to be the number one killer among people living with HIV despite the progress made.

He said government in collaboration with development partners has put in place measures aimed at fighting the disease.

“The focus has been on strengthening our ability to detect, care and treat patients with TB and support their families. We now have a robust screening programme that is supported within communities by trained volunteers. This has meant that we have been able to drastically reduce the distance patients have to travel to access testing, care and treatment.

“With the support of the recent addition of 4 specialist lorries (Chipatala Choyendayenda) provided with support from the Global Fund, we can take our services almost to their doorstep. These lorries are equipped with sophisticated diagnostic equipment such that patients are able to be given their results on the same day providing a significant enhancement on our capability,” Muluzi said.

The event was held under the theme “Wanted: Leaders for a TB free World” and Muluzi called on all people in the country to join hands in fight against.

According to Muluzi, everyone in the country has a role to play in order to eliminate the disease.

“Health care workers providing quality care to infected TB patients. Teachers educating students on prevention. Opinion leaders encouraging high risk members of their community to go to hospital for screening. The general public seeking free TB diagnostic and treatment services. Community leaders mobilising the community to establish community sputum collection points.

“School authorities controlling overcrowding in schools and ensuring that there is adequate ventilation in classes and hostels. The media disseminating health messages to the public,” Muluzi said.

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