Malawi First Lady Monica Chakwera has been appointed Malawi's tuberculosis (TB) Champion, a role which has been described by health activists and experts as an epitome of strong political will and commitment to end the vice by the year 2030.
Madam Chakwera has been crowned the new role on Wednesday during a meeting with the National TB and Leprosy Elimination Program (NTLEP), PARADISO TB Patients Trust and the National Organization of Nurses and Midwives.
As TB Champion, the first lady is expected to lead the country's efforts in mobilizing financial resources towards TB; fighting stigma and discrimination towards TB affected populations; advocate for better nutrition for TB patients; advocate for multi-sectoral participation as well as promoting community engagement in the fight against TB.
Program Manager for the NTLEP Dr. James Mpunga said by assuming the new role as TB Champion, "that in itself signifies a huge milestone in the country's efforts towards ending TB by 2030 and a strong demonstration at the highest level of the country's commitment to end TB".
He said the TB sector is humbled by Her Excellency's interest in ensuring that the glaring gender disparities that exist in TB response as well as stigma and discrimination are alleviated.
TB remains the biggest cause of death among people living with HIV and in Malawi the TB/HIV coinfection remains high at 45%.
Just like many other countries across the globe, Malawi is implementing the End TB Strategy which aims at ensuring reduction in number of TB deaths compared with 2015, reduction in TB incidence rate compared with 2015, among others.