|Counting Malaria Out: An Unwavering Commitment of the Americas|
PAHO Director meets Princess Astrid of Belgium, Special Representative of the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Initiative.
On the occasion of the commemoration of World Malaria Day 2010, our Region was honored by the visit of Princess Astrid of Belgium, Special Representative of the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Initiative joined by Professor Awa Marie Coll-Seck, Executive Director of RBM Partnership and other dignitaries.
Washington, DC. PAHO HQ. 20 April 2010.
Princess Astrid of Belgium, Special Representative of the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Initiative reached out to our Region to raise awareness about the disease and to call for increased action in the fight against this preventable and treatable disease that continues to take the lives of nearly a million people each year.
Dr. Mirta Roses, Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) welcomed the delegation and made a brief introduction noting that “Malaria is undoubtedly one of the most formidable nemeses of peoples throughout the world. The disease was transmitted throughout the Americas during the early twentieth century and was noted as among the most prevalent infectious disease of the period. More than a century later, Malaria remains a most serious scourge to public health and human productivity”.
An overview of the Malaria situation in the Americas was presented by Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, PAHO Health Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control Area Manager; communicating the important work that countries of our Region and various partners and stakeholders are doing to prevent and control Malaria, and eliminate the disease in areas deemed feasible.
Dr. Barbosa also explains the Region’s achievement in our fight against the disease: “53% reduction in malaria burden in the Americas contributed by the remarkable case decreases in 18 of the 21 malaria-endemic countries in the Region.”
PAHO's Malaria Strategy: protecting the achievements while reducing the disease.
Dr. Roses added that although the Americas does not have the same situation with Malaria that Africa has, there still exist pockets of the disease that have a significant impact on the health and on the economy, especially in countries that depend on tourism.
The 2006-2010 PAHO Strategic Plan for Malaria in the Americas, the malaria prevention and treatment measures and the interventions carried out in the affected countries and region wide have been an important contribution to reach the global and regional goal of Counting Malaria Out. Only 3 countries in the Region out of 21 have reported increases of the malaria cases. PAHO is developing capacities at local level to support the government work.
There is optimism in the Region and there are examples of good practices and strategies which have involved other sectors such as the tourism sector in the Dominican Republic. The mining and oil companies have also gotten involved and we need to do more to include the private sector and expand our work to include the military especially in border regions, added Dr. Roses.
The Director remarked that we need more advocacy to obtain the support of the financial institutions to support not only national programs, but also broader multi-country programs and create bridges among programs since Malaria does not respect borders.
Professor Awa Marie Coll-Seck, Executive Director of RBM Partnership emphasized that the global plan for malaria reduction and elimination overall strategy aims to reduce malaria morbidity and mortality by reaching universal coverage and strengthening health systems. The Global Malaria Action Plan defines two stages of malaria control: (1) scaling-up for impact (SUFI) of preventive and therapeutic interventions, and (2) sustaining control over time.
Dr. Rainier Escalada, PAHO Malaria Advocacy & Policy Specialist mentioned that PAHO participated in the consulation process and development of the global malaria action plan and facilitated the communication of existing gaps and challenges in malaria prevention and control in the Americas and other regions outside Africa.
The importance of working with the countries was stressed. There is concern with Hispaniola and the increase in Malaria cases. Elimination was mentioned as a goal, but that we need to be cautious and look at the scientific evidence. The goal for 2015 is to avoid death from the disease.
The AMRO region has a wealth of information to share with other regions and we want to learn as well about the success stories from other regions. The Director also mentioned the importance of South-South and triangular cooperation taking the opportunity of the experiences for the regions and the expertise and resources in labs, community participation, supply chains, that we already have in the Americas.
The Princess and the RBM delegation were very pleased with our achievements in the Region and specifically expressed great interest on our work in identifying Malaria Champions of the Americas, an effort which PAHO co-sponsors with the Pan American Health and Education Foundation (PAHEF) and, the George Washington University , recognizing the importance of awards and recognition of people, groups, and programs that have made an impact and contribution in the fight against Malaria, important strategy that can contribute also to mobilize resources.
Dr. Roses concluded that PAHO is mandated and strategically positioned to collaborate in these efforts but increased resources are needed for an effective and efficient response.
The Region of the Americas is relentless in engaging with the rest of the world in the battle against malaria. We strive to protect our achievements, face new and evolving challenges, and address the unfinished agenda. We remain unwavering in our commitment to “Count Malaria Out” in the Americas.
The Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership is the global framework to implement coordinated action against malaria. It mobilizes for action and resources and forges consensus among partners. The Partnership is comprised of more than 500 partners, including malaria endemic countries, their bilateral and multilateral development partners, the private sector, nongovernmental and community-based organizations, foundations, and research and academic institutions.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is an international public health agency with more than 100 years of experience in working to improve health and living standards of the countries of the Americas. It serves as the specialized organization for health of the Inter-American System. It also serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization and enjoys international recognition as part of the United Nations system.
For more information, contact Office of the Director (WDC),
Pan American Health Organization, (PAHO/WHO)
Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization