WASHINGTON, United States, Wednesday November 8, 2017 – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and partner agencies have identified Malaria Champions in Haiti and the Dominican Republic as well as Brazil, for their work on closing gaps towards eliminating malaria.
Two projects, one in the Dominican Republic and Haiti and another one in a remote area of the Amazon in Brazil, won the recognition for their outstanding work in interrupting transmission of the mosquito-borne virus and developing local systems to access malaria diagnosis and treatment.
In the Dominican Republic and Haiti, a binational project to eliminate malaria in Hispaniola, spanning border communities of Ouanaminthe and Dajabon, received the Malaria Champion award for its “outstanding achievements” and creative response using innovative technologies that involve the private sector and community and traditional health workers to improve surveillance, diagnosis and treatment of malaria in both countries.
The project in the Municipality of Eirunepé in the Amazonas, Brazil, was recognized for reducing the malaria burden in isolated population groups living in logistically challenging areas. Because of their work, malaria cases have dropped from 8,000 in 2013 to 126 cases for October 2017.
The project was cited as an outstanding example of a community and health service system that gave high priority to malaria and overcame the challenges of decentralization by involving various sectors, multiple stakeholders, and strengthening the capacity of local institutions.
Malaria is still endemic in 21 countries of the Americas, with most of the cases concentrated within the Amazon sub-region. It remains a serious threat in the Americas, with more than 100 million persons at risk of contracting the disease.
In the region of the Americas, malaria cases declined by 62%, and malaria-related deaths decreased by 61% between 2000 and 2015; 19 of the region’s 21 malaria endemic countries have achieved significant reductions in malaria morbidity and mortality and have committed to its elimination.
However, the rise of malaria cases reported in several countries in 2016 and 2017 showed that major challenges remain to diagnose, treat, and investigate malaria cases, especially in remote areas, PAHO said, adding that these require close collaboration between governments, the private sector, local communities, and international cooperation.