INTERNATIONAL: Country efforts lead the way toward malaria elimination in the Americas

Press Release

Mosquito_Tasmania_cropPRESS RELEASE – Countries in the Americas have made dramatic progress in reducing deaths and illness from malaria, and 14 of the region’s 21 malaria-endemic countries have expressed official commitment to eliminating the disease.

On Malaria Day in the Americas (Nov. 6), the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and its partners are honoring three country programs as “Malaria Champions of the Americas”
in recognition of their exemplary efforts to detect, treat, and dramatically reduce the spread of the disease. Efforts by these and other affected countries have contributed to a regionwide decline of 67% in malaria cases (from nearly 1.2 million in 2000 to 375,000 in 2014) and 77% in deaths (from 390 in 2000 to 89 in 2014).

“The Region of the Americas has demonstrated capacity to reduce malaria significantly,” said Marcos Espinal, director of PAHO/WHO’s Department of Communicable Diseases. “Our member states and PAHO are
committed to accelerate efforts to eliminate the disease.”

The three 2015 Malaria Champions of the Americas being honored today are: First-place winner: Brazil’s National Program for Prevention and Control of Malaria, winner of the first-place award. Since its
establishment in 2003, this program has helped dramatically reduce the number of malaria deaths (down 61%), cases (down 69%), and hospitalizations (down 84%) nationwide in Brazil while achieving even more dramatic declines in the lowest-income municipalities.

The program has nearly 14,000 health workers collaborating with both urban and rural communities to carry out surveillance, detection, vector control, treatment, health education and installation of bed nets. The program is part of the Ministry of Health’s Department of Health Surveillance and collaborates with the ministry’s Community Health Outreach Programs and Family Health Strategy.

The three 2015 Malaria Champions of the Americas being honored today are:

First-place winner: Brazil’s National Program for Prevention and Control of Malaria, winner of the first-place award. Since its establishment in 2003, this program has helped dramatically reduce the number of malaria deaths (down 61%), cases (down 69%), and hospitalizations (down 84%) nationwide in Brazil while achieving even more dramatic declines in the lowest-income municipalities.

The program has nearly 14,000 health workers collaborating with both urban and rural communities to carry out surveillance, detection, vector control, treatment, health education and installation of bed nets. The program is part of the Ministry of Health’s Department of Health Surveillance and collaborates with the ministry’s Community Health Outreach Programs and Family Health Strategy.

Honduras’s Health Surveillance Unit, whose malaria control efforts have reduced malaria cases over the past three years by an average 56% in the six departments that account for over 90% of the country’s
cases. The program works closely with communities to install bed nets, carry out surveillance, expand diagnostic coverage, and ensure treatment. By 2014, Honduras was reporting 3,380 malaria cases
nationwide, representing a 90% decline from the 35,125 cases reported in 2000.

Paraguay’s National Program for Malaria Control (PNCP) has helped maintain Paraguay free of indigenous malaria transmission since 2012. The program uses a “T3” strategy of “Testing, Treating and Tracking”
for malaria that has included expanded surveillance of mosquito vectors and of imported human cases of malaria. PNCP, part of National Malaria Eradication Service (SENEPA), is now working to achieve PAHO/WHO certification of Paraguay as malaria-free.

In addition to celebrating the 2015 Malaria Champions of the Americas, today’s Malaria Day in the Americas event at PAHO/WHO also features a special Forum of Malaria Networks and Advocates. It focuses on new
initiatives for malaria control and elimination, including the Roll Back Malaria Partnership’s “Action and Investment to Defeat Malaria,” the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Strategy for Malaria in the Americas, and the “Malaria Zero” initiative of the Consortium for Malaria Elimination in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

PAHO, founded in 1902, is the oldest international public health organization in the world. It works with its member countries to improve the health and the quality of life of the people of the Americas. It also serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of WHO.

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