Ecuador, a historically malaria-endemic country in the Amazon, represents a regional success story: malaria elimination efforts led to a reduction of reported malaria cases from 800,000 in 2000 to 241 in 2014 and malaria mortality dropping to zero.
Despite nationwide elimination efforts, however, malaria incidence has increased recently, with cases reaching 1,843 in 2019. Ecuador’s main challenge is reaching and providing access to malaria diagnosis and treatment to hard-to-reach, rural communities – communities like Kapawi in the Morona – Santiago region.
Nancy Piruch, a mother, lives in the Kapawi community and has seen her whole family affected by malaria multiple times. Nancy first contracted malaria when she was 11, but it’s more difficult for her to watch her kids suffer from the disease. For her, malaria is a dangerous disease that used to decimate her community. She remembers taking traditional medicine as a child, but now her kids can access diagnosis and treatment at the local health center.
“It is my responsibility to look after my kids and send them to school. Every day I make sure there is food on the table for my family.
When one of my kids feels sick, I immediately go to the health center for a doctor’s visit. It worries me when they get sick and start to vomit or develop a fever and chills. It takes a toll on our family when the children get sick.
We don’t want to have malaria and hope to work together to fight this disease. Every night we use the bed nets to protect ourselves. I feel more at peace because we are getting malaria under control.”
Ecuador is committed to expanding health coverage across the country, particularly in rural and hard-to-reach areas, by involving all levels of society. From teachers, health workers, and moms like Nancy, everyone has a role to play in ending malaria. Learn more about Ecuador’s fight to end malaria here.