New PAHO initiative seeks to tackle malaria in the Caribbean

A new initiative from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) aims to address the burden of malaria in the region of the Americas, including the Caribbean, where it is most concentrated.

PAHO said “Municipalities for Zero Malaria” will focus on bringing together key partner organisations, relevant government agencies, and municipalities affected by malaria in order to support local efforts to take effective action against the disease.

The launch took place in the framework of the World Malaria Day 2019, held on April 25 — and was part of a concerted effort to tackle the noted concentration of most cases of malaria in just a few municipalities.

In 2017, for example, PAHO said 25 municipalities accounted for about 50 per cent of all reported cases of malaria in the region of the Americas.

At a country-level, between 25-70 per cent of all cases of malaria are usually concentrated within no more than three municipalities.

“It is clear that acting where the problem is most concentrated is crucial to achieving the malaria elimination goals that countries have committed to,” said Dr Marcos Espinal, Director of the Department of Communicable Diseases and Environmental Determinants of Health at PAHO.

“Organisations, citizens and local government authorities must be engaged in developing key interventions for malaria elimination at a municipality level if we are to ensure that no one gets left behind,” he added.

PAHO said the initiative supports municipalities in taking measures to address malaria, including strengthening surveillance and capacities for monitoring at local level; improving access to early diagnosis and treatment; and empowering communities and raising awareness of the importance of health seeking behaviour, among other aspects.

The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) 2018 World Malaria Report highlights that progress in fighting malaria stalled globally in the period 2015 to 2017.