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United States Agency for International Development–USAID which is a leader in the global fight against Tuberculosis with an annual Tuberculosis budget of about 240 million United States dollars, has said it is strengthening TB systems in the country.
Speaking to the media on Thursday, USAID TB Program Specialist Dr Haldon Njikho said USAID said the TB strengthening systems include scaling up of rapid molecular diagnostic tests for TB detection and drug susceptibility testing including GeneXpert MTB/RIF equipment and test cartridges, cartridges that allow TB and rifampicin resistance to the simultaneously detected from patient specimens in less than two hours.
“USAID has recently completed major rehabilitation of the National TB Reference Laboratory in Lilongwe. The agency is also upgrading the laboratory to Biosafety Class 3 and making it ready to host a drug resistance prevalence survey which is to start soon,” Njikho said.
He added that USAID’s overall objective is to support Malawi’s National TB Control Program leadership in the TB response and improve access to quality services at healthy facility and community levels with HIV partners.
Njikho further said USAID is building capacity for management of TB commodities including drugs and laboratory supplies at national, regional and facility level.
According to Njikho, in 2016, there were an estimated 10.4 million new incidents of TB cases worldwide. Only 6.3 million new TB cases were notified to national authorities and reported to the World Health Organization in 2016.
He explained, “10 countries accounted for 76 percent of the total gap between TB incidence and reported cases, the top 3 were India with 25 percent, Indonesia with 16 percent and Nigeria with 8 percent. Nearly half (46%) of all new TB cases (46%) was HIV related TB.”
In Malawi, an estimated 159 new TB cases per 100, 000 population occur each year translating to 27, 000 new TB cases in 2017. However, just about 17, 000 new TB cases were diagnosed and reported in 2017, representing a case detection rate of 63 percent of new TB cases in the country.
Eleven districts accounted for 76 percent of TB case notification in 2017 and Lilongwe and Blantyre contributed 40 percent of the cases. About 60 percent of the cases occur among men, and 10 percent of registered TB patients are children.