Balaka district tuberculosis (TB) officer Thomas Bizweck says integrating TB and leprosy interventions will enhance the fight against the two diseases.
He made the remarks on Tuesday at the end of a Leprosy Awareness Project meeting Sue Ryder Foundation in Malawi organised to train health workers on how to manage leprosy cases in the district.
Bizweck said the two diseases have the same mode of transmission and that structures used in TB control will also be utilised for leprosy to maximise resources.
“The Sue Ryder Foundation project has empowered health workers with leprosy management skills in the district.
“In 2021, we recorded 36 leprosy cases when the highest we could get before was nine per year,” he said.
Balaka district skin and leprosy officer George Anafi said the district has not eliminated leprosy according to the World Health Organisation standard of less than one case per 10 000 population.
He said: “Balaka leprosy prevalence rate has always been above one although Malawi eliminated leprosy in 1994.
“Additionally, the restructuring of National TB Control Programme to National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Elimination Programme to accommodate leprosy will mean taking advantage of the strong TB structures to fight the disease.”
Sue Ryder Foundation executive director Anthony Chilembwe said the leprosy awareness project his organisation was implementing has enhanced the fight against leprosy in Balaka.