Yesterday was the 12th edition of "Malaria Day" in America, a platform for countries in the region to carry out a dynamic campaign against malaria, a disease that in the past century has been the main cause of death in almost all nations of the world. Therefore, the American Health Organization (PAHO) urged countries in the region to take urgent measures to stop the growth in cases, maintain achievements and hit the continent of this deadly disease.
Today Paraguay is the first country in America without malaria, officially recognized in June this year by the World Health Organization (WHO). Until 1973 Cuba achieved this achievement. Belize is now on track to obtain accreditation in 2019. Belize, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico and Suriname make up the list of 21 countries in the world will abolish malaria by 2020. Although other countries have recorded an increase in the number of cases which threatens achieving the goals of reduction Cases and the corresponding elimination of disease in the region by 2030.
PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne confirmed that the elimination of malaria is now closer than ever, but believes that "we can not trust or relax operations, control efforts must be double where prevalence has recovered," he claimed.
Malaria is endemic in 20 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, one less than in 2017 after the elimination in Paraguay. Since 2015, malaria cases in the region has increased 71%. Ninety-five percent of the total population was concentrated in five countries, mainly in specific areas where efforts to combat the disease were weakened, many of them indigenous populations, people living in vulnerable situations, and mobile populations such as miners and migrants.
"If we want to eradicate malaria, we need more investments and an expanded approach to prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease in communities that concentrate most of the cases," said Marcos Espinal, director of the Department of Communicable Diseases and Communication. Environmental Health of PAHO.
Malaria Day in America was established by the Member States of the PAHO Board of Directors in 2008 and is an opportunity to highlight the need to invest in prevention and control of the disease in America. It is estimated that regional efforts coordinated by PAHO and its partners saved hundreds of lives by reducing mortality rates by 30% between 2000 and 2017.