On March 24th World TB Day 2017 in Malawi, Minister of Health Peter Kumpalume urged Malawians to unite in the fight to end TB, saying one out of every 10 people in Malawi has tuberculosis, hence the need for everyone’s efforts to end the disease. Kumpalume was speaking at the commemoration event in Thyolo under the theme: Unite to End TB where he reaffirmed Malawi’s commitment to collaborate with partners in implementing the WHO End TB Strategy.
“The WHO strategy calls for significant reduction in tuberculosis deaths and in tuberculosis incidence rate. In addition, the strategy aims to end the catastrophic costs faced by families due to tuberculosis,” said Kumpalume. He said government was investing to enhance human resources for health, diagnostics, infrastructure, drugs and supplies as well as developing and strengthening sustainable systems to support the fight against TB.
WHO Representative, Eugene Nyarko thanked government and partners that were implementing actions to address existing gaps in TB treatment, care, prevention and control, saying time was now ripe to take the fight against TB to the next level by harnessing the power of innovations such as digital technologies like telemedicine and mobile health to reach more people and more efficiently than before.
“Some countries are already using mobile phones and devices for recording and reporting case notifications. This is a much more efficient way to treat patients on time, and track those who have not shown up for appointments. If we are to attain the Sustainable Development Goal target of ending the TB epidemic by 2030, we have to do things differently. Adopting these innovative ways requires strong commitment to strengthen health systems, improving communications and upskilling health providers,” said Nyarko.
At the ceremony three districts namely Lilongwe, Kasungu and Zomba received the “best performance,” awards. World TB Day 2017 was particularly important because misconceptions still exit about the disease due to lack of awareness such that many people do not seek TB services whenever they have signs and symptoms or seek the services late. The District Health Offices are expected to organize community campaigns to continue creating awareness about TB in their districts.