Malawi making strides on TB elimination

A meeting discussing Tuberculosis in Malawi

Health authorities in Malawi say the country is making remarkable progress on Tuberculosis elimination as it has recorded a decrease in morbidity, mortality and transmission rates of the disease.

This was disclosed during a two-day TB Research Network Dissemination Conference held from 24th October to 25th October, 2023 at the Amaryllis Hotel in Blantyre which brought together key players in the field of TB related researches.

The National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Elimination Program (NTLEP) reported that Malawi is now registering nearly 15 thousand Tuberculosis cases compared to 19 thousand cases back in 2012, which represent a 21 percent decrease in ten years.

NTLEP Research Care and Treatment Officer Dr Tisungane Mwenyenkulu said among others, the decline has been achieved because of the use of new TB elimination strategies under National TB Control Program (NTP) Strategy.

Dr Mwenyenkulu further said it is very encouraging that the country is registering a reduction in the morbidity, mortality and transmission of Tuberculosis which he said gives hope that the disease will soon no longer be a public health problem in Malawi.

“Based on the programmatic data that we, the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Elimination Program presented (at the conference), there is a remarkable progress because as a country we are a party to the NTP Strategy which have strategies that we are supposed to achieve by 2030 as well as 2035.

“So, we are progressing very well because there has been reduction in the number of cases happening in terms of the incidents estimate, a decline in the morbidity and in the mortality. So those are key issues around TB treatment and care that have been happening,” said Dr Mwenyenkulu.

He further added that most of the studies have shown that there is a link in terms of active case finding, thus missing cases and what NTLEP and other players are supposed to do to make sure that they are able to optimize and define those missing cases so that they should be found and enrolled into care.

Mwenyenkulu said other key issues that came out at the conference are the issues of diagnostics, the methodologies and techniques that are being used as well as the screening tools that are being used. He said they are looking at the most sensitive screening tools that can be used to give the maximum yield in terms of number of available cases.

Dr Hussein Twabi who is disease Scientist from Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (KUHeS), further revealed that currently prevalence of Tuberculosis at community level is now at 0.2 percent while the number of new cases in the country is 115 cases per 100,000 people per year.

He said this is good news considering that around 2019, the country was recording at least 200 cases per 100,000 population per year and further expressed optimism that TB will be eliminated, claiming various players have intensified active case finding approaches where vans with officers go around trying to diagnose TB within the communities.