• Malaria diagnosis

PAHO underlines importance of sustained malaria efforts and protection of health workers during COVID-19 pandemic

24 Apr 2020

The Organization outlines key guidelines on how to stay the course of malaria elimination and support the response against COVID-19

Washington, D.C., 25 April 2020 (PAHO/WHO) — Work to prevent, detect and treat malaria in the Americas must be sustained while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, PAHO/WHO experts said today, citing solidarity with the global community in commemorating World Malaria Day.

It is crucial to sustain efforts in malaria diagnosis, treatment, and surveillance, ensuring that best practices to protect health workers and communities are followed and aligned with national COVID-19 guidelines, Marcos Espinal, Director of the Department of Communicable Diseases said.

In virtual meetings with national malaria program leaders, and partners, experts highlighted to countries of the region the critical importance of maintaining the work to prevent, detect and treat malaria, in synergy with the COVID-19 pandemic response.

Interventions must consider the importance of lowering disease and death caused by malaria, while ensuring the safety of communities and health workers, they added. PAHO/WHO has provided appropriate guidance on how to conduct malaria activities in various scenarios, given the changing context of the COVID-19 situation in the Americas.

Ensuring the appropriate testing and treatment of patients as well as core malaria prevention measures such as insecticide-treated nets and indoor residual spraying are important strategies for reducing the strain on health systems, they said. 

Since implementing the Diagnosis-Treatment-Investigation and Response (DTI-R) strategy in 2018, which links to WHO’s Framework for Malaria Elimination, malaria-endemic areas in the Region have guided their malaria elimination efforts toward preventing, diagnosing, treating, and tracking down cases.

Protecting the gains against malaria and moving forward with key malaria interventions such as reinforcing health and surveillance systems also contributes to better understanding of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, PAHO experts noted.

Malaria elimination achievements and challenges in the Americas

In 2019, Argentina was certified as malaria free, following Paraguay's achievement of that goal in 2018. El Salvador has completed 3 years without local transmission and is likely to be certified as malaria free this year. Belize also had no local transmission in 2019, putting it on track to be certified as malaria-free in 2022.

However, overall, according to WHO's World Malaria Report 2019, there were no global gains in reducing new infections over the period 2014 to 2018. Challenges in the Americas include an increase in transmission related to gold mining and movements of vulnerable population between and within countries, as well as weakening of the actions of malaria programs that may worsen in the context of COVID-19.  


The Pan American Health Organization works with the countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of their peoples. Founded in 1902, it is the world's oldest international public health organization. It serves as the regional office for the Americas of WHO and is the specialized health agency of the inter-American system.

The United Nations Foundation builds public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and broadens support for the United Nations through advocacy and public outreach. Through innovative campaigns and initiatives, the Foundation connects people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems. The Foundation was created in 1998 as a U.S. public charity by entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner and now is supported by global corporations, foundations, governments, and individuals. For more information, visit www.unfoundation.org.

The George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health carries out innovative research and scholarly service activities to meet the evolving challenges of the 21st-century global health and development environment. Working with a diverse group of partners, the school aims to strengthen the link between science and policy and to improve responses to critical health issues around the world.

The Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs is a global leader in the field of strategic health communication with active programs in more than 30 countries. CCP partners with organizations worldwide to design communication solutions that solve public health problems and inspire healthy behaviors. CCP's strengths include social and behavior change communication, advocacy, knowledge management, capacity strengthening, and research and evaluation. CCP is based at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The Global Health Consortium at the Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work, Florida International University, is an upcoming leader in global health multidisciplinary network that provides innovative, evidence-based solutions for the prevention, control, and elimination of relevant global health issues. The GHCaims to improve the living conditions of communities through a sustainable and equitable balance between health and the environment.

The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene founded in 1903, is the largest international scientific organization of experts dedicated to reducing the worldwide burden of tropical infectious diseases and improving global health.