The 2019 Global Tuberculosis (TB) report has placed Malawi among 30 countries with high-burden for TB and HIV, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) stating that such countries are off track to reach the 2020 milestones of the End TB Strategy.
But Ministry of Health spokesperson Joshua Malango says the country is strengthening screening of HIV patients for TB and screening of TB patients for HIV.
The WHO report observed that most high-burden countries like Malawi are being hampered by funding gaps of close to $5 billion (about K4 trillion) annually.
WHO director general Tedros Ghebreyesus has since called for enhanced efforts to help build and sustain national political commitment and funding in the countries with the highest burden.
He said: “The WHO Global TB report delivers a clear message: sustained acceleration of efforts and increased collaboration are urgently required to turn the tide of the TB epidemic. To maintain momentum, I personally wrote to Heads of State this year urging them to keep the promises made at last year’s high-level meeting on TB. Our vision is that no one with TB will miss out on the care they need.”
But in a written response on Wednesday, Malango said the number of patients being screened for TB in HIV clinic settings in Malawi has increased over the years.
He said: “Currently over 99 percent of TB patients know their HIV status. The proportion of TB/HIV co-infected patients has declined to 53 percent from 77 percent in 2003. The ART uptake among these co-infected patients is above 98 percent, which is a massive improvement, from around 2003.”
The ministry spokesperson added that government is piloting more technologies for TB diagnosis among people living with HIV.
The WHO report supports recent findings by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) which stated that Malawi’s national and global responses to HIV and Aids and TB are veering off target due to funding gaps.
Malango at the time admitted that funding was a challenge, adding there was a need to manage population which threatens the gains from previous interventions.
Other countries in the Global TB high-burden category include Angola, Brazil, Cameroon, China, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Thailand and Zimbabwe.