Detection, Education Produce Big Gains Against Killer Disease In Malawi

Millwood, VA, March 24, 2011

Project HOPE, an international health education and humanitarian assistance organization, says educating communities about tuberculosis detection in Malawi has yielded amazing results in preventing the spread of the disease, a major cause of death and sickness, especially for people with HIV/AIDS.

“Tuberculosis detection is crucial,” said Alexander Trusov, Project HOPE Senior Program Officer for Infectious Diseases. “It’s estimated that about three thousand people die from TB each year in Malawi. There were almost 25,000 new cases last year and almost half of them were HIV positive.”

Empowering communities in the fight against TB through health education and mentoring can have a major impact in preventing TB. Project HOPE initiated a five-year program beginning in 2006 in Malawi’s Mulanje and Phalombe districts to support the National TB Program and improve TB case management and treatment outcomes. Project HOPE-trained volunteers make regular trips from their villages, on foot or on bike, carrying TB test samples to TB diagnostic centers miles away -- and the results are formidable.

The TB treatment success rate in the districts increased from 60 percent to 86 percent in the five year period, surpassing the World Health Organization’s target rate of 85 percent, and mortality rates decreased to 11 per cent from 20 percent.

Project HOPE’s ‘Bikes for Malawi’ campaign is helping to move the cause forward by funding the purchase of bicycles to enable volunteers to increase the speed of collecting samples and getting test results, allowing people with TB to be diagnosed and cured more quickly.

Tuberculosis is spread from person to person through the air as the bacteria may be passed on through coughing, sneezing, talking or laughing. Millions of people have died of the disease worldwide. About one-third of the world's population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the bacterium that causes TB.

The theme of World TB Day 2011 is “On the move against TB: Transforming the fight towards elimination,” illustrating a renewed momentum to address the global problem of TB with more intensity amid growing interest from leaders in public, science, medicine and advocacy.

About Project HOPE
Founded in 1958, Project HOPE (Health Opportunities for People Everywhere) is dedicated to providing lasting solutions to health problems, with the mission of helping people to help themselves. Identifiable to many by the SS HOPE, the world’s first peacetime hospital ship, Project HOPE now conducts land-based medical training and health education programs in more than 35 countries across five continents.

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