The Ministry of Health (MoH) and Médecins Sans Frontières, (MSF) have described Malawi’s work towards reaching the Joint United Nations Program on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) 90:90:90 targets by 2020 as a success story.
The 90:90:90 UNAIDS’ ambitious target aims at; diagnosing 90 percent of all HIV positive people; providing Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) for 90 percent of those diagnosed with HIV and surpressing 90 percent viral load of those treated by 2020.
Speaking during a Media Café organized by MSF on Tuesday, Deputy Director in the Department of HIV and AIDS of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Thokozani Kalua, said Malawi is doing well towards achieving the target.
“This has been shown recently by a study popularly known as Malawi Population Based Impact Assessment which was conducted last year and also our program data shows that we are making progress,” said Kalua, pointing out that Malawi tested 3.3 million people in 2016 alone.
Moreover, Kalua said Malawi has managed to diagnose around 83 percent of people that are living with HIV and AIDS and that 85 percent of the diagnosed are now on treatment.
He further said that 88 percent of those that are currently on treatment have their viral load suppressed and that all this just shows that Malawi will be able to beat the target come 2020.
However, Kalua was also quick to point out that although there seems to be a bright future in beating the target, there are still significant challenges which include the fact that fewer men are getting tested and that in some age categories, girls and women are more affected by the virus than men.
“The Malawi Population Based Impact Assessment has shown that men have not had much access to treatment but this may also be explained by the Option B+ that we have had for a long time. This is a policy where all women who are pregnant and HIV positive are put on treatment right away. Men do not have that same opportunity,” said Kalua.
He added that the Test and Treat Strategy which started in 2016 will also play positive role in achieving the ambitious UNAIDS targets since the strategy incorporates everybody regardless of their sex, clinical staging or immunological status to start treatment as soon as they are diagnosed with HIV.
“Besides the Test and Treat Strategy, we are also doing other changes in our programming to make sure that men are able to access the services as well and this includes integration with other services. For instance, if somebody goes for a Blood Pressure (BP) check, they should be offered an HIV test as well,” said Kalua.
Moreover, Kalua said that the ministry is trying to extend the working hours in their medical facilities to enable men to access their services which will also include weekends.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :