Washington, D.C., event highlights progress, continuing challenges

WASHINGTON, DC (April 2010) - Efforts of countries and key stakeholders in the battle against malaria have contributed to a 53 percent reduction in the disease burden in the Americas since 2000. Yet more than 200 million people continue to be at risk of contracting the disease, and the achievement of targets are threatened by natural disasters and continuing social problems in various communities.

The evolving challenges of this public health menace and innovative efforts to address them were presented at a forum "Malaria in the Americas 2010: Innovative Stories from the Ground" held in Washington, D.C., on April 22, in observance of World Malaria Day.

The event also featured the premiere of a short film that marked the official start of the search for Malaria Champion of the Americas 2010 (click here for more information). The film featured the 2009 Champions, the challenges they faced and their work to overcome those challenges.

The top-winning Champion for 2009 was a joint project between the National Service for Control of Arthropod-Transmitted Diseases (SNEM) in Ecuador's Ministry of Health and the Project for Malaria Control in Andean Border Areas (PAMAFRO) of the Andean Health Organization that led to a 66 percent reduction in malaria in the border areas of Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru and Colombia. The second-place Champion, Dr. Mario H. Rodriguez López of Mexico's National Public Health Institute, is a leading scientist and researcher whose efforts on vector control and community have led to a large decrease in malaria in Mexico. The third Champion was the Health Division of the Foundation for Education and Social Development (Fundación FES Social) in Colombia, which countered malaria through information, education and communication activities and was instrumental in identifying chloroquine resistance in malaria parasite, prompting the country to change its treatment guidelines. For more information about the 2009 champions, click here.

Dr. Rainier Escalada, of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), focused on the progress on malaria control made by the countries of the region and emphasized the importance of maintaining support to further decrease the disease burden to the point of elimination (the presentation can be accessed here).

The April 22 event was presented jointly by PAHO, the Pan American Health and Education Foundation (PAHEF), the George Washington University Center for Global Health, and the Global Health Network.

Communicable Diseases and Health Analysis Department
Neglected, Tropical and Vector Borne Diseases Unit
Malaria Program