Next week, the Nothing But Nets team is traveling to the island of Hispaniola—composed of Haiti and the Dominican Republic—to spotlight the efforts of UN and U.S. partners in the fight to eliminate malaria from these countries and from the broader region of the Americas. Achieving these ambitious goals would mark a major milestone in the path toward global malaria eradication, unlocking vast economic potential, strengthening health systems across the region, and helping to protect the United States from health threats such as the Zika virus from crossing our borders.
When we think about malaria, we tend to focus on the critical burden in sub-Saharan Africa – however, malaria still threatens half of the world’s population, in nearly every corner of the globe. In the Americas region, 132 million people in 21 countries are still at risk of contracting malaria, with an estimated 700,000 cases occurring per year.
Fortunately, cases and deaths are on the decline, with several countries achieving a 75 percent or greater case reduction since 2000. This progress has been made possible thanks to the efforts of many partners working together, particularly the Pan-American Health Organization of the United Nations (PAHO/WHO), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), among others.
During our trip to Haiti and the Dominican Republic, we will be highlighting the various initiatives led by these partners, including the Malaria Zero consortium that are helping to drive down malaria cases through measures such as increased access to diagnosis and treatment and improved disease surveillance. The trip will take us to state-of-the-art laboratories in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where trained technicians are working to ensure timely malaria diagnosis and improved disease surveillance, to communities in rural Dominican Republic, where health workers go house to house to track malaria cases and ensure at-risk patients have the resources they need to stay healthy. This trip will highlight not only the amazing progress being made in the fight against malaria on the island, but it will also demonstrate the need for continued investment to ensure this progress is not lost.