Community sputum collection points across Malawi managed to identify at least 1000 Tuberculosis (TB) patients in 2018 alone and helped the sick to access treatment, effectively avoiding transmission which could have lead to 15,000 new TB cases.
Technical and Advocacy Coordinator for TB at Action Aid Malawi, Kondwani Mshali, disclosed this in Mbwadzulu village in Mangochi District when his organization appreciated interventions being done by some organisations that are sub-recipients of the Joint TB/HIV Global Fund.
Mshali said the community sputum collection groups are doing a great job because one unidentified and untreated TB case can transmit to 15 people in a year.
According to the National TB Control Program, there are about 1000 community sputum collection points across the country working voluntarily to help the government in the fight against TB.
"Community sputum collection points and more involvement of communities is the way to go if we are to really win the fight against TB. More people are coming forward to be screened for TB because of the awareness and services being done by these structures which are closer to the people," said Mshali.
He added that Action Aid Malawi, as a principal recipient of the Joint TB/HIV Global Fund, will work hard in partnership with its sub-recipients to provide more resources to the community sputum collection groups to enable them work even much better.
Community Mobilization and Engangement Officer at National TB Control Program, Beatrice Mtotha Nindi, said TB in Malawi is highly prevalent in rural areas but can be cured especially when it is quickly detected and treated.
Signs and symptoms of the disease include; persistent coughing for two weeks, weight loss and too much sweating.
In Mbwadzulu and four other villages in Traditional Authority Nankumba, Balamanja community sputum group is working with the Catholic Health Commission to conduct TB awareness and screening among people.
According to the group's Chairperson Fosco Madzedze, since 2017, they managed to identify 11 people with TB and over 80 others suspected to have the disease who successfully accessed treatment.
Programs Assistant Coordinator for Catholic Health Commission, Mariana Nyawenda Lungu, concurred with Mshali on the need to provide more resources to such groups, adding that they also need incentives to get more motivated.
She said her organization only provides materials such as bicycles, gloves and sputum boxes.