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Research Networking Conference Emphasises the Need to Fight TB

Researchers from MLW, Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (KUHES), Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), dignitaries from the National Tuberculosis Program (NTP), and their partners, gathered at the Tuberculosis Research Networking Conference in Blantyre at Malawi Sun Hotel to generate synergy existing between all partners generating evidence for TB control in Malawi.

The two-day conference, which was also held virtually, commenced on 25 November until 26 November 2021.

According to Research and Key Population Lead for National Tuberculosis Programme (NTP) Kruger Kaswaswa said the research conference will provide researchers with new knowledge which will help our partners and the government to know which areas to prioritise in terms of TB research and policy implementation.

In his speech during a presentation of his study on tuberculosis titled “Modelling strategies to increase uptake of TB active case finding interventions among men and youth in Malawi”, the LIGHT (Leaving no-one behind: transforming Gendered pathways to Health for TB) Consortium Ph.D. Research Fellow Mphatso Phiri said the studies around TB will inform the TB control programme in coming up with ways of reducing TB in Malawi.

According to recent evidence from the study, it is now known that men and youth, compared to women, account for a disproportionately large burden of TB disease. However, compared to women, men are less likely to participate in TB active case-finding interventions within communities. Moreover, men are also more likely to delay care-seeking for TB symptoms. Consequently, men who have undetected TB are likely to substantially contribute to TB transmission towards other men, and women, and children.

Phiri’s study is still in the planning stages and they hope to share findings soon.

Over the past couple of years, Malawi has made significant progress in the fight against TB. For example in 2019, the incidence of tuberculosis for Malawi was 146 cases per 100,000 people. The incidence of tuberculosis in Malawi fell gradually from 386 cases per 100,000 people in 2000 to 146 cases per 100,000.

However, challenges remain in detecting TB cases in vulnerable populations. There is hope that the findings from several studies which were presented at the conference have informed national TB control programme efforts to implement interventions targeted at reducing TB.