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Post Author
By: Rebecca Lathe

Felicidades Brasil! Celebrating Malaria Day in the Americas 2015

June 7, 2017
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Over the course of the last decade, the Americas have made dramatic progress in the fight to defeat malaria. In fact, 14 of the region’s 21 malaria-endemic countries have expressed official commitment to eliminating the disease. Since 2000, malaria interventions have contributed to a 60 percent decline in malaria mortality rates around the world, averting approximately 6.2 million deaths primarily in young children.

Recently, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and its partners held a breakfast briefing on Capitol Hill to celebrate these successes and discuss the challenges we still face in eliminating malaria in the Americas.

President of the Global Fight Deb Derrick moderated a lively panel discussion between Dr. Ana Carolina Santelli of Brazil’s Ministry of Health, Dr. Lawrence Barat of the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), and Dr. Luis Castellanos, PAHO/WHO.

All three panelists agreed that malaria interventions in the Americas have proven most successful when synergy of efforts was achieved between domestic networks and international organizations, such as The Global Fund and WHO. That said, in order to achieve the goal of malaria eradication, partnerships must gradually give way to sustainable, domestically-led initiatives.

Dr. Ana Carolina Santelli said that for this to occur, countries must train local health personnel and increase investment in the healthcare systems and infrastructure. Dr. Luis Castellanos commented that those affected by malaria are often the hardest to reach, particularly indigenous communities in some parts of Americas. He stressed the importance of working side-by-side with these cultures in order to find the right response together.

Dr. Lawrence Barat concluded the panel by surmising that there is no silver bullet to defeating malaria – the solution is constantly evolving. He cited the proven success of insecticide-treated bednets and stressed the continued use of nets along with spraying, vaccination testing, and innovative solutions to work together to mitigate the risk of insecticide resistance.

Wednesday’s briefing led up to the forum and award ceremony to honor the 2015 “Malaria Champions of the Americas” hosted at PAHO/WHO. The event celebrated Brazil, Paraguay and Honduras for their outstanding efforts to detect, treat, and dramatically reduce the spread of the disease. Efforts by these and other affected countries have contributed to a region-wide decline of 67% in malaria cases and 77% in malaria-related deaths from the years 2000 to 2014.

At the end of the forum celebrating progress made in all three countries, Brazil was named the 2015 Malaria Champion of the Americas. Brazil’s National Program for Prevention and Control of Malaria has helped dramatically reduce the number of malaria deaths, cases, and hospitalizations since 2003. 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.

Honduras received second place for its national Health Surveillance Unit, whose malaria control efforts have reduced malaria cases by an average 56% over the past three years in the six regions that account for over 90% of the country’s cases. The third place award was given to Paraguay and its National Program for Malaria Control (PNCP), which has been free of indigenous malaria transmission since 2012.

These three honorees are leaders in their region for their groundbreaking achievements in accomplishment of the Millennium Development Goals, and they will play a large role in continuing the fight to end malaria as part of the new Global Goals for 2030. 

“The world’s success in rolling back malaria shows just what can be achieved with the right kind of determination and partnerships. It provides bold inspiration to all nations that seek to create a healthy environment for their children and adults,” said the President of the 70th session of the UN General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft in a recent statement celebrating the accomplishment of the Millennium Development Goals.

The United Nations Foundation and Nothing But Nets are proud to have sponsored these events commemorating the incredible progress made by the Americas to defeat malaria.

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