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World Bank approves K11.9bn Mw TB grant

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The World Bank has approved $17 million (about K11.9 billion) grant for Tuberculosis (TB) interventions in the country.

The grant is part of $122 million for TB interventions in four countries in Southern Africa including Malawi, Lesotho, Mozambique and Zambia

While Malawi and Mozambique are getting grants, Zambia and Lesotho are getting credits.

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The funds are for Southern Africa Tuberculosis and Health System Support Project which will target mining communities, regions with high TB burdens of TB or HIV/Aids, transport corridors, and cross-border areas of the four target countries.

According to t h e statement that World Bank Malawi office made available yesterday, the project’s primary beneficiaries will be TB-affected individuals and households in line with the bank’s goal to support the most vulnerable by ending extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity.

The goal includes the prevention of communicable diseases, which have a disproportionate impact on the poor.

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Accounting for a third of the world’s 22 countries with highest TB burdens, Southern Africa is at the epicenter of the dual epidemic of TB and HIV/ Aids.

“Malawi, Lesotho, Mozambique and Zambia are no exception with high levels of TB/HIV co-infections and related mortality as well as increased risk of multidrug-resistant TB against a background of large-scale or growing mining sectors which is a contributor to this health challenge.

“Close intra-regional economic activity has created a fertile ground for spreading diseases across porous borders, underscoring the need for coordinated regional actions,” the statement reads in part.

The statement says the project epitomises the strong commitment and leadership of Malawi and the three countries in working across sectors and borders to address these health challenges.

“Its preparation benefited from close collaboration with the Global TB Branch, Division of HIV and TB, of the United States Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention which provided technical support. This collaboration is expected to continue during project implementation. The project will also be coordinated with other related national and regional efforts in the sub-region.

“The design of this project draws on existing country efforts and global lessons in TB control as well as the recent Ebola emergency in West Africa which demonstrated that collaboration and systems building can help countries to better respond to current and new disease threats,” the other part of the statement reads.

The statement continues to s ay the project promotes the use of best-buy interventions and facilitates innovations and learning across countries.

Minister of Health Peter Kumpalume is quoted in the statement to have said the project will enable countries to learn from each other, develop common TB protocols and harmonise health systems while acknowledging differing health system contexts.

“The project will reduce barriers to TB and TB-HIV/Aids diagnostics and treatment services on both households and public health systems. With ever emerging global disease threats, the project will strengthen cross-border mechanisms and systems for general disease surveillance and management beyond TB” the statement quotes Kumpalume.

World Bank Country Director for Regional Integration, Moustapha Ndiaye said the regional collaboration and the capacity for health systems to monitor, track and share information as well as timely respond to diseases is critical to effective TB control in a region which is at the epicenter of the dual TB and HIV/Aids epidemic.

“This project will help the four countries build a truly regional response to an epidemic that knows no borders,” Ndiaye said.

The project has three mutually reinforcing components: innovative prevention, detection and treatment of TB; strengthening the region’s capacity for disease surveillance, diagnostics and management; and supporting regional learning and innovation and project management.

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