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Analytical summary - Neglected tropical diseases

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Most of the neglected tropical diseases in Malawi are localized, occurring is some districts but not countrywide. For instance, onchocerciasis is mostly found in eight districts in the southern region of the country. Human African trypanosomiasis occurs in five districts around Nkhotakota Game Reserve, Kasungu National Park focus and in the North Vwaza Marsh focus.

There is considerable overlap in the geographical distribution and endemicity of lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, trachoma and soil-transmitted helminthiasis. Lymphatic filariasis has been found to be endemic throughout the country.

Prevalence of neglected tropical diseases, Malawi, 2010. Source: Ministry of Health

Mass drug administration is the main strategy used for controlling some of the neglected tropical diseases in Malawi. The diseases targeted with this strategy are ochocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis, soil-transmitted helminthiasis, schistosomiasis and trachoma.

The National School Health and Nutrition Programme carries out nationwide chemotherapy using praziquantel and albendazole, together with health and hygiene education targeting schoolchildren. Past control efforts, though fragmented, achieved reductions in infection, suggesting that deworming efforts, improved sanitation and hygiene education could ultimately eliminate soil-transmitted helminthiasis.

Malawi conducts both passive and active surveillance for neglected tropical diseases. The health management information system is an important source of data on outputs of the health sector, diagnosis of Essential Healthcare Package conditions and diseases, and other health systems information on a quarterly basis. Most of the information used in health services delivery is derived from health facilities. However, not all neglected tropical disease data are captured in the health management information system.

Active surveillance is carried out through the Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response on selected diseases of public health importance affecting the districts, including emerging and re-emerging diseases. This information is collected and reported weekly from districts to the national level.