National AIDS Commission (NAC) and its partners in the National Response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic on Wednesday, 9th August 2023, gathered at Sunbird Capital Hotel to take stock of their annual performance in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
The Joint Annual Review (JAR) meeting was held under the theme “Optimizing Public Health Equity and Community Systems through Integration of HIV Services for Impact” and focused on activities implemented in the 2022/2023 Financial Year.
Guest of Honour at the event, Mr. Amon Nkhata, who is also Director of Health Sector and Inter-governmental Coordination in the Ministry of Health, said that stakeholders’ concerted efforts have helped the country to reduce new HIV infections from around 56,000 in 2010 to around 15,000 in 2022, AIDS-related deaths from around 32,000 in 2010 to around 11,100 in 2022 and prevalence rate from 10.6% to around 7.7%.
“When we look back, over two decades ago, the HIV and AIDS epidemic seemed unstoppable. Yet, through relentless efforts by all of us, we have achieved significant milestones in the fight against the epidemic,” said Nkhata.
He said with the current sustained efforts, Malawi is on course to fully attain the ambitious Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) 95:95:95 treatment targets by 2025 and further the national dream of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.
The 95:95:95 targets stipulate that 95% of all people living with HIV should test for HIV to know their status; 95% of those that know their HIV-positive status should be initiated on the life-prolonging Anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) and 95% of those on ARVs should achieved viral suppression.
NAC Board of Commissioners Chairperson, Dr. Chipo Kanjo, said currently the country’s performance against the 95:95:95 targets stood at 94:99:94.
She said in the period under review the National Response to HIV and AIDS was rocked by some challenges, including the cholera outbreak and the Cyclone Freddy disaster, which hampered provision of AIDS-related services.
“Apart from negatively impacting on the provision of the HIV and AIDS services, these challenges affected the wider social-economic fabric, thereby threatening to reverse the gains made in achieving the targets set in the National Strategic Plan for HIV and AIDS,” said Kanjo.
“Despite these hurdles, I am pleased to report that Malawi still made remarkable progress towards meeting the 2025 National Strategic Plan targets. For example, by the end of the year under review, in March 2023, cumulatively, a total of 949,158 HIV-positive individuals were diagnosed with 937,241 receiving life-prolonging antiretroviral drugs and 881,007 achieving viral suppression,” she added.
JARs are held annually and attended by a cross-section of multi-disciplinary stakeholders from all levels of society to monitor the performance of the National HIV and AIDS Response in Malawi.