Hiwa in his speech said though Malawi has been experiencing some challenges in TB control and prevention, the country has made tremendous strides such as beating the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended success treatment rate, provision of Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) to TB patients who are HIV positive, reduced proportion of TB/HIV co-infected people and TB mortality rate is currently at 7 percent.
"The proportion of TB patients successfully cured at the time they finish treatment has for the past 5 years been above the WHO recommended 85 percent, HIV positive TB patients who are started on ART has increased from 54 percent in 2010 to 81 percent in 2012, the proportion of TB/HIV co-infected people has decreased from 77 percent in 2000 to 60 percent in 2013, the proportion of TB patients that unfortunately die while on treatment has remained low at 7 percent in the past two years," said Hiwa.
Hiwa said government in its quest to contribute in ensuring that 3 million people who currently do not access TB diagnosis and treatment, Malawi will target 6000 people who are classified as the poorest and most vulnerable in the community with health services.
"The ministry working closely with its partners has 35 GeneXpert machines throughout the country to ensure TB diagnosis tests within 2 hours... the ministry is also in the process of decentralizing TB management so that TB diagnostic and treatment services are provided closer to the patient's homes... in the area of multidrug resistant TB (MDRTB), I would like to report that the prevalence of MDR-TB remains at less than 1 percent among all the patients presenting for the first time with an episode of smear positive TB, and less than 5 percent among those patients treated for TB for the second time," said Hiwa.
Dr Eugene Nyarko, WHO representative who attended the commemoration commended Malawi for making great strides in the fight against TB which he said implied that Malawi would meet the 2015 targets established within the Millennium Development Goals framework.
"These achievements are commendable and we congratulate the Government of Malawi for that. As partners, we remain optimistic that these achievements can be improved upon," said Nyarko who suggested five priority areas of reaching the missed cases, addressing MDR-TB as a public health crisis, accelerating the response to TB/HIV, increase financing to close resource gaps and ensuring rapid uptake of innovations.