As the fight against Tuberculosis – TB intensifies, some religious leaders have joined a band wagon of those that have sworn to take the fight against the disease head on until it is eradicated.
The move follows interest on the same by other local and international stakeholders to end one of the killer diseases in Malawi by 2030 as stipulated by the World Health Organization – WHO.
With seven years remaining to the 2030 deadline, the National TB and Leprosy Elimination Programme – NTBLEP has left no stone unturned in ensuring that the disease is dealt with.
So far, some faith leaders have been conducting awareness campaign sessions with their members on how the disease is contracted, spread and prevented.
Assemblies of God Church Minister Symon Msiska is an example of those who have taken matters into their own hands to engage members of his denomination about the disease.
“The first step we have taken is to sensitize all our members so that they are aware that the TB problem still exist and that it is curable,’’ said Msiska.
Sheik Juma Abdullah of the Muslim Association of Malawi – MUM is another faith leader who is leading the fight against the disease in Lilongwe.
Abdullah advocates for people to go for screening and seek medical help once diagnosed with the infectious disease adding that the Holy Quran allows for such while administering prayers to those diagnosed with the disease.
’’Our role is to sensitize people on various issues and preach the good news according to the book which also gives us powers to pray for sick people. It is not good to discriminate against those that are suffering and everybody should know that the disease is not a punishment from God,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, TB and HIV programme officer for NTBLEP Henry Kanyerere describes the involvement of faith groups as very crucial.
“Faith leaders are very pivotal since they live and interact with a lot of people and they can easily disseminate information about the disease and help people to be screened and get treatment on time,’’ said Kanyerere.
Recently, the NTBLEP has had interactions with faith leaders from The Roman Catholic, the Church of Central African Presbyterian – CCAP, Muslim Association of Malawi, the Anglican Church and Seventh Day Adventist as well as the Malawi Assemblies of God Church.
Malawi registered 18 thousand TB cases in 2022 from 14 thousand cases in 2021 while treatment success rate remains at 90% with a decrease in death rate of 7.3% in 2023 from 10.3% in 2013.