By Llywellenie Mpasa:
Delegates from six countries in Africa have gathered in Blantyre to discuss ways of strengthening regional cooperation in health, under the Southern Africa Tuberculosis (TB) and Health Systems Support (SATBHSS) Project.
The countries are Mozambique, Tanzania, Malawi, Lesotho, Zambia and Rwanda.
Chairperson for the 2022 conference, Joseph Bitilinyu-Bangoh, who is also the Deputy Director of Laboratory Services in Malawi, said the meeting targets to strengthen regional capacities to tackle emerging and persistent diseases such as TB, Cholera, Covid, Ebola and Polio.
Bitilinyu – Bangoh said the meeting has brought together experts and key stakeholders to engage in dialogue on emerging evidence and implementation priorities that will strengthen health systems to improve efficiency, equity and effectiveness of health service delivery.
“The four participating countries have agreed to function as a community of practice (CoP) on TB and Occupational Lung Disease Control in order to foster cross-country knowledge generation, learning and sharing,” Bitilinyu-Bangoh said.
He added that at this year’s conference, the CoPs will also incorporate the Strengthening Pandemic Preparedness (SPP) Project that covers Tanzania and Rwanda in addition to Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia, bringing the number of participating countries to six.
Deputy Programme Manager for the National TB and Leprosy Elimination Programme in Malawi, Kuzani Mbendera, said the weeklong conference targets to contribute to regional, continental and global frameworks on TB and share notes on how to deal with regional challenges faced in the fight to eliminate the disease.
He further said during the interactive SATBHSS Project, countries have taken leadership on various thematic areas in which they have comparative advantage and will support each other by providing leadership in advancing in the specific areas.
The meeting has drawn experts in the areas of laboratory system strengthening, diseases surveillance and outbreak response, TB continuum of care and monitoring and evaluation.
SATBHSS is a regional project that was launched in 2016 with the aim of strengthening the health sector’s response to TB and occupational lung diseases.
It is being implemented in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia.