November 6 marks the 14th annual Malaria Day in the Americas!
Friday, November 6th, 2020
On the occasion of Malaria Day in the Americas 2020, and in keeping with this consolidated effort by the global malaria community to highlight the reported successes and the remaining challenges in malaria today, the region of the Americas is adapting the same theme used for the commemoration of World Malaria Day 2020: “Zero malaria starts with me.”
Malaria Day in the Americas is an important opportunity and mechanism for countries of the region to engage various stakeholders in aggressively fighting malaria. Following a sustained trend toward reduction of malaria from 2005 to 2014, in recent years the Region of the Americas experienced an increase in the total number of cases and deaths since 2015, mainly as an effect of the massive increase in transmission and outbreaks in areas with complex socio-political and economic challenges and recently compounded by other challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Much like the global trend, progress on the achievement of target reductions in malaria burden have stalled since 2015. Between 2015 and 2018, malaria cases and deaths have increased by 69% and 111% respectively.
Locally, Belize is poised to eliminate malaria in the near future. The country is ahead of its target of zero cases by 2020, a goal set and affirmed by all countries of Mesoamerica and the Island of Hispaniola in the 2013 Meeting of the Council of Ministers of Health of Central America and Dominican Republic (COMISCA). In 1995 Malaria transmission reached its peak at in Belize with approximately 10,000 cases. Between 2000 and 2019 Belize achieved a 100% reduction in cases from 1,486 cases to 0 in 2019.
This is no time for complacency, as risk stratification exercises show many areas with significant risk for the re-introduction of malaria through the migration of workers within the agriculture, construction and service industry, coming from endemic areas. The most vulnerable areas of the country remain the Southern and Northern districts.
Belize is among seven Central American Countries and the Dominican Republic that make up the Regional Malaria Elimination Initiative (RMEI). The project is being financed and supported by the Global Fund, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Carlos Slim Foundation and the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB). The RMEI aims to eliminate the local transmission of malaria in the region by the year 2022. The financing mechanism is to provide countries with the additional financing required to cover the costs of the last mile needed for malaria elimination.
In the lead-up to this year’s Malaria Day in the Americas, countries in the region are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry of Health underlines the critical importance of sustaining efforts to prevent, detect and treat malaria. The Ministry calls on local healthcare workers to increase the surveillance for malaria among febrile patients visiting health facilities, in an effort to maintain the current trend.
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