Malawi registers 79% decline in HIV and Aids infections

Malawi has registered a 79 percent reduction in HIV and Aids infections, with latest estimates showing that new infections dropped from around 84, 000 in 2002 to about 17, 600 in 2022.

Deputy Minister of Health Enock Phale has attributed the feat to various interventions the Malawi Government is implementing to reduce the number of new HIV infections, provide treatment, care and support as well as mitigating against the impacts of the disease.

Phale made the remarks at the Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe on Thursday when he opened the 2022 Joint Annual Review of the National Response to HIV and AIDS for the period July 2021 to March 2022.

Phale addressing participants to the 2022 Joint Annual Review meeting at BICC in Lilongwe on Thursday

The National Aids Commission (NAC) organized the Joint Annual Review meeting to assess progress made in the HIV and AIDS National Response for the Financial Year 2021 – 2022. The review meetings are part of mechanisms to monitor the implementation of the National HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan (NSP) 2020-2025.

This year, the meeting attracted participants from across the strata of life, including government officials, religious leaders, the civil society and interest groups, among others.

In his remarks, Phale reported that Malawi has also registered a steady decline in the number of people dying of Aids-related illnesses from about 77, 300 in 2002 to around 12, 000 in 2022.

This represent 84 percent decline.

“This decline in the number of new infections as well as AIDS related deaths can be attributed to the rapid scaling up of a combination of several HIV prevention strategies and treatment interventions over this period. Notwithstanding these achievements, a lot of work still needs to be done in order to reduce further the rate of new infections and AIDS related deaths, in line with our national and global targets toward the goal of ending Aids as a public health threat by the year 2030,” he said.

Phale disclosed that Malawi’s HIV response is held high as a flagship of success  all over the world.

He, however, emphasized that the global events unfolding around the world, including emerging pandemics such as the Covid-19 pandemic, have challenged nations to be vigilant in safeguarding the gains already registered in the fight against HIV and Aids.

The Deputy Minister stated that evidence around the world indicates that emerging pandemics such as Covid-19 have the potential to derail well-established robust efforts towards the control of other diseases including HIV and Aids.

“The effects of emerging diseases on the control of HIV and AIDS get worsened by the existence of inequalities which increase HIV vulnerability and prevent some sections of the society from timely accessing HIV and AIDS services. I am therefore particularly delighted to note that the theme for this year’s joint annual review is ‘Protecting the Gains in the Malawi HIV and AIDS Response Amidst Existing Inequalities and Emerging Pandemics’,” said Phale.

I therefore urge you all delegates that through this review meeting, we should all renew our efforts to integrate the control of emerging pandemics and eliminate inequalities as we continue the fight against HIV and AIDS.

In his remarks, the Chairperson of the Board of Commissioners at NAC, Chipo Kanjo, feared that inequalities and emerging pandemic such as Covid-19, if not proactively mitigated against, could negatively affect the achievement of all the above stated NSP Strategic Objectives and prevent us from meeting our 2025 NSP goal.

Kanjo therefore asked stakeholders to focus national response efforts towards meeting NSP strategic objectives while at the same time working to eliminate all forms of inequalities as well as controlling emerging pandemics.

“Let me commend all players in the national response for the various roles that they are playing to ensure that the HIV and Aids response continues to make significant achievements, most of which we shall appreciate at this meeting. Our collective efforts with government leadership, resolute development partner support and the dedication of implementing partners, civil society organizations and all stakeholders are pivotal towards the success of the national response.

“I would like to applaud the Malawi HIV and AIDS Partnership Forum for continuously organizing these review meetings annually, whose outcomes are among the catalytic factors that have driven the national response,” he said.

Kanjo assured participants of NAC’s continued commitment to carrying out its mandate of providing effective leadership, technical guidance, facilitation and coordination of the Malawi HIV and AIDS National Response in line with the provisions of the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Management Act of 2018.

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