Central American Region and the Dominican Republic to benefit from malaria eradication program

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carlos Slim Foundation have embarked on a project dubbed the Regional Malaria Elimination Initiative (REMEI), to help the Central American region and the Dominican Republic eradicate malaria. Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama are among the beneficiaries of the project, which is expected to raise US$83.6 million, leverage over US$100 million in domestic financing and US$39 million of existing donor resources across the region.
The funding is expected to be available by 2022, ensuring that malaria remains a top health and development priority, despite a decrease in reported cases. The details of the project explain that the funding will be used to close the technical and financial gaps to support and execute country elimination plans in the beneficiary countries. Under REMEI, the IDB is expected to make available up to US$37.1 million for each participating country.
Additionally, the Gates Foundation will provide US$31.5 million in what is called a result based payment system. It is believed that such blended financing mechanisms will allow the IDB to give countries access to concessional funding they may not otherwise be able to obtain for malaria programs. The initiative will also receive US$15 million from the Carlos Slim Foundation, which will be used to support the core objectives and allow REMEI to explore opportunities and reach other communities in countries like Mexico and Colombia.
The REMEI concept was developed with the support of the ‘End Malaria Council,’ which is made up of a group of public sector and business leaders dedicated to eradicating the disease. The initiative is also being implemented in countries like Haiti where the elimination efforts are already underway with the collaboration of the organization Malaria Zero Alliance.
It is known that since 2000, there has been a decrease of more than 90% in malaria cases reported in Central America. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 40,277 confirmed cases of malaria were reported in 2016 in Central America, Dominican Republic, and Haiti altogether.
According to a report from the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), malaria cases in Belize have decreased dramatically between the years 2000 and 2015. During this time, the number of cases decreased by 99.12%, closing 2015 with only 13 cases against over a thousand cases reported in previous years. The last death due to malaria in Belize is said to have occurred in 2006, according to reports from the MOH.
PAHO and the WHO are very optimistic of the eradication program and believe that by the early 2020’s, Belize can potentially eliminate malaria. In the meantime, the funding organizations of REMEI are reaching out to governments and other potential donors to join them in this project. They are also anticipating an official launch of the initiative sometime in 2018. No tentative date for such launching has been announced.

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