National Tuberculosis Control Programme (NTP) manager Dr James Mpunga has said Malawi is on the right track in the fight against tuberculosis (TB) as it continues to do well on indicators set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
He said this in Lilongwe last week during a three-day media professional meeting on TB.
Mpunga said WHO has given Malawi and other countries indicators on which they are supposed to report.
“Number one is what we call treatment success rate which means that for the patients that are put on TB treatment, a certain proportion have to be cured. Malawi has always persistently achieved the target.
“Of course, for 2016 we missed it by just one percentage point, we were supposed to be at 85 percent but we were at 84 percent, but it was still good work.
“Also, World Health Organisation expects us not to have a lot of deaths because of TB. I would say that our figures are still very low, at six percent, and we have been at that rate for about five to six years. Other countries in the region are reporting above 10 percent and this is a very big indicator for us,” he said.
Mpunga also said another area where the country is doing well is on anti-retroviral treatment (ART) uptake among people who have both TB and HIV which is at 97 percent.
He attributed this to the integration of TB and HIV programmes where people who have TB are also screened for HIV and vice versa.
During the meeting, NTP technical adviser Dr Daniel Nyangulu briefed the media on public private mix (PPM) initiative which the programme has rolled out to reach people in need of TB services through engaging with all care providers such as traditional healers, retail pharmacies and drug stores.
“Experiences elsewhere indicate that patients with TB often self-medicate with medicines obtained from traditional healers, retail pharmacies and drug shops for a long time prior to presenting to health care facilities for TB diagnosis,” he said.
WHO rates TB the second to HIV and Aids as the greatest killer worldwide.
Malawi had 17 000 TB cases in 2015 and 53 percent of them lived with HIV, according to NTP. n