TB that does not respect administrative boundaries and tackling the disease requires a coordinated effort by neighbouring districts across borders to accelerate prevention, diagnosis, case management and treatment. Zambia and Malawi have come together to establish the Mchinji-Chipata Cross Border Committee using the Framework for Cross-Border Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response. The Framework as developed by the Community of Practise (CoP) on Laboratory and Surveillance in August 2017 in Maputo, Mozambique under the Southern Africa Tuberculosis and Health Systems Support (SATBHSS) project.

The framework provides an opportunity for project countries and their neighbours to strengthen priority cross-border activities for disease control, including but not limited to disease surveillance, epidemic preparedness and outbreak control and building core capacities to ensure compliance to the International Health Regulations (IHR (2005). It also has guidelines on how to set up Cross-Border Zonal disease surveillance and response committees which shall be tasked with coordinating and implementing cross-border interventions in line with existing structures.

Malawi and Zambia will co-Chair the Cross-Border Committee and have developed a work plan for joint activities in 2018 based on three themes; (i) coordination, advocacy and community mobilization (ii) Laboratory (iii) and Surveillance. Terms of Reference (ToRs) of the Mchinji-Chipata Cross Border Committee were agreed and membership was agreed with each country bringing 13 members to make a total of 26.

Dr Willy Were gave closing remarks on behalf of the Director General of East Central and Southern Africa Health Community (ECSA-HC) and he applauded the efforts by Malawi and Zambia to finding solutions to their problems jointly. He also emphasized on continuation of engagements formally and informally on cross border surveillance and other issues of public health importance. Dr Were also appreciated the presence of both District Commissioners (DCs) in the meeting as it demonstrates their level of commitment to the process and ensuring its success.

Mr Mabvuto Chiwaula, representing the DC of Mchinji reiterated the need to continue dialogue between Mchinji and Chipata. He noted that the boundary between Malawi and Mozambique was the longest and most prone to disasters and should be considered in the next planned cross-border meetings. He thanked the organizers of the meeting and acknowledged the support provided.

The DC of Chipata, Moses Nyirenda gave the official closing remarks where he thanked ECSA-HC for organizing and facilitating the meeting. He indicated that the issues of cross-border were topical and noted that the Table Top simulation was very useful in evaluating their preparedness and the identified gaps will be rectified. He assured the meeting that he will oversee implementation of the recommendations from the meeting.  

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