Projects from the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Guatemala are recognized as successful efforts to reduce malaria in Latin America and the Caribbean

Washington, D.C., 7 November 2014 (PAHO/WHO) - On the 8th annual Malaria Day in the Americas, Nov. 6, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) is honoring three projects - from the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Honduras - for their achievements in preventing and controlling malaria and advancing toward its elimination.

The projects are examples of efforts that have helped to dramatically reduce the burden of malaria in the Americas in recent years. Since 2000, malaria cases have declined 64% and malaria deaths have declined 78% in the 21 malaria-endemic countries of the region. Seven of these countries are now well on their way to eliminating malaria, and the others are making significant progress against the disease.

"The Americas has a history of public health leadership, from polio to measles, and malaria is another important example," said Pedro Alonso, Director of WHO's Global Malaria Program. "The biggest advances in malaria have actually taken place in this region. Other regions in the world will benefit enormously from the experiences in the Americas."

The Malaria Champions of the Americas awards honor initiatives that contribute to this progress. This year's winners are:

  • The Dominican Republic's National Center for Control of Tropical Diseases (CENCET), which developed a strategic plan to eliminate malaria from the island of Hispaniola. The plan is being implemented in coordination with Haiti and includes integrated vector control that targets dengue as well as malaria, and that promotes collaboration with other sectors, including tourism, agriculture and construction. The plan contributed to a 39% decline in malaria cases from 2012 to 2013 and helped control dengue during a major epidemic in the Americas. Watch the video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bgsyr5vJY58.
  • Guatemala's Southwest Petén Health Program for vector control efforts that have helped reduce both malaria and dengue by empowering communities to clean up domestic environments and use bed nets, and by emphasizing private and public sector participation, early diagnosis and treatment, and health promotion and health education. The program has helped reduce malaria cases in the area from 3,418 in 2006 to 35 in 2013. Watch the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kuZzWLq6DF4.
  • In Honduras, the Integrated Malaria Control program of José Santos Guardiola, a municipality in the Department of Islas de la Bahía. The program employs a model borrowed from a malaria program in the municipality of Wampusirpi that was named a Malaria Champion of the Americas in 2011. The program has emphasized 100% coverage of the population with insecticide-treated bed nets, local support for surveillance activities, early diagnosis and prompt treatment, and a strong community education and involvement component. All actions have been carried out with the support of community volunteers. Since the program began, malaria cases have declined from 163 in 2011 to 5 cases in 2013. Watch the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJ0OBvxi40g.

The Dominican Republic won this year's first prize, which included $2,500 from the PAHO Foundation to continue its malaria efforts. All the winners received a plaque of recognition and a video about their programs and best practices, which will be disseminated at the regional level.

Accelerating malaria elimination

In addition to honoring the Malaria Champions of the Americas, the Nov. 6 observance of Malaria Day in the Americas 2014 also included a Malaria in the Americas Forum: Accelerating Malaria Elimination in the Americas, organized by PAHO/WHO, the PAHO Foundation, the Milken Institute School of Public Health at The George Washington University, and the Center for Communication Programs of The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Pedro Alonso, of WHO's Global Malaria Program, noted that the substantial progress in the Americas in reducing deaths and illness from malaria left "no excuse"" not to achieve the final push toward elimination of the disease. "You have to finish the job and lead the world in completing the unfinished agenda of malaria."

Also participating in the forum was Maria Kirova, Head of the Asia, Europe and Latin America and Caribbean Department of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria; and Keith Carter, PAHO/WHO Advisor on Malaria and Other Communicable Diseases.

Launched in 2007, Malaria Day in the Americas seeks to raise awareness, build commitment and mobilize action to meet malaria reduction goals at the community, country and regional levels. The Malaria Champions of the Americas awards, launched in 2008, seek to identify, celebrate and inspire excellence in efforts to fight malaria in the countries of the Americas. Both initiatives are organized each year by PAHO/WHO, the PAHO Foundation, the Milken Institute School of Public Health at The George Washington University, and the Center for Communication Programs of The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, with the collaboration of other institutions.

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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