Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

HIV and Patient Monitoring in Malawi

Version 1 : Received: 26 September 2018 / Approved: 27 September 2018 / Online: 27 September 2018 (15:29:43 CEST)

How to cite: Williams, B. HIV and Patient Monitoring in Malawi. Preprints 2018, 2018090513. Williams, B. HIV and Patient Monitoring in Malawi. Preprints 2018, 2018090513.


Malawi has developed an excellent, nation-wide system for monitoring people infected with HIV and keeping track of key epidemic markers. Their success lies in two things: the focus on simplicity and the use of data collection not only to track the epidemic and identify problems but also to give regular feedback and support to every clinic in the country. This achievement is the more remarkable given that Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking 190 out of 194 countries by GDP, but has one of the most severe epidemics of HIV in the world, ranking 9th out of 168 countries by HIV prevalence. We first discuss the current state and likely future epidemic trends in Malawi: unless we know where we are and where we are going we cannot decide what to do or how to do it to in order to achieve a better outcome. We then discuss the history and development of Malawi’s patient monitoring system, as reported in their Integrated HIV Program Reports,ix which have been published quarterly since the beginning of 2004. We consider the current state of patient monitoring and support as reflected in the most recent report for the third quarter (Q3) of 2016 and comment on some of the questions that this raises. Finally, we consider ways in which the current system could be improved by strengthening Malawi’s analytical capacity and making better use of this unique data set. The focus here is on HIV in adultsv because if ART is initiated early in all adults living with HIV this should include testing all pregnant women for HIV and starting them on treatment immediately. However, PMTCT is especially important and care must be given to reducing MTCT and identifying the long-term child survivors of mother-to-child transmission and this demands a complementary assessment. There is an ongoing debate about the relative merits of treatment and prevention in reducing transmission and it should be made clear that the primary reason for starting people on treatment early is that it is in the best interest of the individual patient to start treatment as soon as possible after becoming infected. Allowing a person’s immune system to deteriorate to any degree is not consistent with the clinician’s commitment to ‘first do no harm’ and even those with the highest CD4+ cell count are at a substantially increased risk of death. What matters, therefore, is to get as many people as possible onto ART, ensure that they remain virally suppressed, and consider prevention in this context.


Malawi, HIV, tuberculosis, anti-retroviral therapy, surveillance, patient monitoring, epidemic trends, drug supply, unique patient identifiers, data analysis


Medicine and Pharmacology, Tropical Medicine

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