As part of its core mandate of providing effective leadership, technical guidance, facilitation and coordination of the National HIV and AIDS Response, National AIDS Commission (NAC) and its stakeholders held the Research and Best Practices Dissemination Conference on 5th and 6th September 2023.
The activity was held at the Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe under the theme “Leveraging evidence from research and best practices to sustain the HIV and AIDS response in a low resource setting”.
This was the first time the event was held in five years. The event was last held in 2018 and the break was caused by, among others, the restructuring process that NAC underwent and the COVID-19 pandemic whose prevention interventions included the banning of gatherings.
Speaking when opening the event, Secretary for Health Dr. Samson Mndolo, who was the guest of honour, said research was very important in driving relentless efforts in implementing interventions, stressing that the wide-scale adoption of the best practices and innovations has led to achievement of significant milestones in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
“For example, Malawi has witnessed a 73% reduction in new annual HIV infections, from 56,000 in 2010 to 15,000 in 2022; a 65% reduction in annual AIDS-related deaths, from 32,000 in the year 2010 to 11,100 in 2022; and a decrease in adult HIV prevalence (aged 15 and above) from 10.6% to 7.7% between 2010 and 2022,” he said.
“By March 2023, Malawi had achieved a commendable 94:99:94 performance with respect to the 95:95:95 UNAIDS global treatment targets. This is an excellent performance that Malawi should maintain towards the achievement of its national goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat by the year 2030,” he added.
During the event, researchers showcased recent research findings in a wide range of thematic areas aimed at adding to the body of knowledge relating to the fight against the HIV and AIDS epidemic.
Chairperson of the NAC Board of Commissioners, Dr. Chipo Kanjo, said that research provides evidence to guide effective decision-making, policy formulation, and programme design, and that the conference would help keep stakeholders up to date with latest knowledge and insights in the HIV and AIDS response.
“It is from a conference like this one that a country lays the foundation for evidence-based programming. It is, therefore, my hope that the evidence shared at this conference will inform effective programme and policy development,” she said.
“Let us keep in mind the fact that it is only when we continue basing our strategic decisions and programming on scientific evidence that our national goal to end AIDS as a public health threat by the year 2030 will be realized,” she added.
She challenged players in the National HIV and AIDS Response to be proactive and embed risk management in programming and be ready to timely respond to adverse events that may arise, citing natural disasters and other disease outbreaks.