Malawi's First Lady Crowned as TB Champion to Lead Anti-TB Efforts
LILONGWE, Malawi— In a pivotal moment for Malawi's fight against tuberculosis (TB), the country's First Lady, Monica Chakwera, has assumed the role of Malawi's TB Champion, writes Bridgette Mwanoka.
Health activists and experts have hailed this appointment as a symbol of unwavering political commitment to eradicate TB by the year 2030.
Madam Chakwera was officially bestowed with this crucial responsibility during a high-level meeting with key stakeholders, including the National TB and Leprosy Elimination Program (NTLEP), PARADISO TB Patients Trust, and the National Organization of Nurses and Midwives.
In her new role as TB Champion, the First Lady will spearhead a range of initiatives aimed at combating the disease.
These initiatives include mobilizing financial resources for TB programs, combating the stigma and discrimination faced by TB-affected individuals, advocating for improved nutrition for TB patients, promoting multisectoral collaboration, and enhancing community involvement in the fight against TB.
Dr. James Mpunga, the Program Manager for the NTLEP, emphasized the significance of Madam Chakwera's appointment, stating, "Her Excellency's assumption of the TB Champion role marks a significant milestone in Malawi's quest to eliminate TB by 2030. It underscores the highest level of commitment within our nation to end this deadly disease."
Dr. Mpunga also highlighted the First Lady's dedication to addressing gender disparities and reducing stigma and discrimination within the TB response, sentiments echoed by many in the TB sector.
TB remains a leading cause of death among people living with HIV, with Malawi grappling with a high TB/HIV coinfection rate of 45%.
To combat this public health challenge, Malawi, like many other nations worldwide, is implementing the End TB Strategy.
This strategy aims to achieve a reduction in TB-related deaths and incidence rates compared to 2015 levels, among other critical objectives.
Madam Chakwera's commitment to leading Malawi's anti-TB efforts is expected to invigorate the nation's pursuit of a TB-free future and improve the lives of those affected by this devastating disease.