Women living with HIV embrace TB preventive therapy in Malawi

Malawi Government introduced TB preventive therapy recognizing Tuberculosis as a public health threat, one of the five districts targeted with 3HP is the lake shore district of Mangochi, women living with HIV are embracing the new shorter regimen as being beneficial and critical in saving lives from one of the oldest infectious diseases

Elizabeth Kazonga, 32 works as a district coordinator for the Coalition of Women Living with HIV (COWLHA) which is also a grantee under the IMPAACT4TB project. She observes that since 3HP came to the district many women who are COWLHA members are very satisfied with the shorter drug regimen

Elizabeth Kazonga, District Coordinator for the Coalition of Women Living with HIV (COWLHA)

“I can tell you that since 3HP came to this district, most of our members are taking the drug easily as a way of preventing TB in their communities,” she says.

Although the shorter is being touted as having lesser side effects and tolerable, she still feels that government needs to do more to ensure that TB preventive therapy accessibility is integrated with psychosocial support, in order to reach all those eligible, such as children with household contacts with TB as well as People Living with HIV (PLHIV)

“Ever since 3HP came to Mangochi to enhance TB preventive therapy, we have had a lot of challenges in terms of logistics and transport. If you at this district, it is very huge and other places are hard to reach, for instance for one to reach Bwana nyambi area, you have to cross the lake by boat”

Kazonga paints a positive picture that with more people being on TB preventive therapy, it will greatly help in making communities TB free in a district with a high rate of migration, where migrants often contract TB travelling between Malawi and South Africa.

She also adds that 3HP among women living with HIV and women, in general, will contribute to healthier families, as it is women who look after homes, while their husbands regularly travel to South Africa to seek better job opportunities. 

“Here in Mangochi, many husbands are leaving for South Africa, which means women must take care of homes. Having women lead in the adoption of 3HP is vital to combat in the communities. But HIV and TB is a huge problem here and men must also play a role to tackle the infectious disease by having positive health-seeking behaviours to seek TB care and have 3HP to prevent TB infection” she stresses.

Written by Dingaan Mithi

Organisation: Journalists Against AIDS (Malawi)

 

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