PAHO, PAHEF, and GWU Honor 2012 Malaria Champions of the Americas
Washington, D.C., November 9, 2012 – Three government-supported anti-malaria programs from Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay were recognized for their success in reducing the burden of malaria through improved diagnosis, treatment, and surveillance during the annual Malaria Day in the Americas Forum, held on Thursday, November 8. The winners were honored during an event marking the sixth annual Malaria Day in the Americas, through a collaborative effort between the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Pan American Health and Education Foundation (PAHEF), and George Washington University’s Center for Global Health (GWU).
The top Malaria Champion of the Americas award went to the National Malaria Control Program of Paraguay, which has reduced the burden of malaria by focusing on the elimination of local transmission and the use of a systematic model for testing, treating, and tracking malaria cases that emphasizes community volunteers, strategic supervision, support of personnel, assurance of quality services, and effective use of local resources. As of 2011, the number of malaria cases reported in Paraguay was down 99% compared with 2002. The country’s last malaria-related death was reported in 1989.
The two other programs also honored were the State Health Department of Acre, Brazil, for its integrated malaria control program, which has helped reduce malaria cases from 140.2 per 1,000 inhabitants in 2006 to 30.8 per 1,000 in 2011; and, Ecuador’s Malaria Control and Surveillance program for helping reduce malaria incidence by 70% over the past two years through efforts to strengthen diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up and to eliminate local transmission where feasible.
The countries in the Americas have significantly decreased their malaria burden over the past decade. The number of malaria cases in the Region declined by 59% between 2000 and 2011, and the number of malaria-related deaths declined by 70%. Despite these achievements, malaria transmission persists in 21 countries, and some 23 million people in the Region continue to be at risk. Malaria experts warn that countries that have succeeded in lowering their malaria burdens are particularly at risk of reduced support and commitment from various stakeholders.
“The three Malaria Champion finalists provide testament to the success of the countries in the region in reducing malaria cases and deaths,” said Dr. Don I. Tharpe, PAHEF president and chief executive office. “We hope that funding commitments will be maintained, if not increased, so that the countries can continue to further reduce malaria-related cases; implement efforts to eliminate malaria in areas deemed feasible; reverse the trend in countries that saw an increased number of malaria cases; and, prevent the reintroduction in countries declared malaria-free. The ultimate objective should be to eliminate malaria in the Americas.”
Participants in a panel discussion organized for Malaria Day in the Americas noted that funding has increased over the past decade for prevention efforts, such as long-lasting insecticide-treated nets and indoor residual spraying. However, less attention has been paid to the need to expand diagnostic testing, treatment, and surveillance. Malaria experts say that these three areas are critical for advancing the Millennium Development Goals and the objective set by the World Health Assembly to reduce the burden of malaria by at least 75% by 2015. PAHO, PAHEF, and GWU encourages partners, donors, and malaria-endemic countries to substantially increase investment in diagnostic testing, treatment and surveillance capacity, coverage and infrastructure through the T3 initiative (Test. Treat. Track.).
About PAHO’s efforts in malaria: PAHO, which celebrates its 110th anniversary this year, 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 the World Health Organization (WHO). PAHO supports member countries’ malaria efforts through its coordination of the Amazon Malaria Initiative (AMI) and the Amazon Network for the Surveillance of Antimalarial Drug Resistance (RAVREDA), which have received financial support from United States Agency for International Development (USAID) since 2001. PAHO/WHO signed a new agreement with USAID this year to continue supporting AMI/RAVREDA and ensure technical cooperation that helps countries further reduce the malaria burden. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has also supported several PAHO member states in the areas of microscopy diagnosis; rapid diagnostic tests; the introduction of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT); and, improvement of malaria surveillance. For more information regarding PAHO/WHO, please visit: www.paho.org
About PAHEF: PAHEF is dedicated to improving health in the Americas through health promotion, education, and training. Founded in 1968, PAHEF is a U.S.-based 501(c)(3) public charity that works with the PAHO and other strategic partners in the Americas to mobilize resources and jointly address key health, education, and training priorities. With a deep knowledge of major health concerns and strong relationships with key stakeholders in the region, PAHEF builds successful partnerships and projects that advance health in the Americas. For more information regarding PAHEF, please visit: www.pahef.org
About Malaria Day in the Americas: Launched in 2007, Malaria Day in the Americas aims to raise awareness, build commitment, and mobilize action to advance malaria goals and targets at the global, regional, country, and community levels. The Malaria Champions of the Americas contest, launched in 2008, seeks to identify, celebrate, and provide avenues to emulate best practices and success stories in malaria prevention and control. Both initiatives are organized each year by PAHO, PAHEF, and GWU.