Yesterday was the twelfth edition of the Day of Malaria in America, a platform for the countries of the region to carry out a dynamic campaign against malaria, a disease that in the last century was the leading cause of death in almost all nations of the world. That is why the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) has called on the countries of the region to take urgent action to stop the increase in cases, maintain the achievements and free the continent from this deadly disease.
Currently, Paraguay is the first country in America free from malaria, officially recognized in June this year by the World Health Organization (WHO). Until 1973, Cuba achieved this achievement. Now Argentina is on track to obtain the certificate in 2019. Belize, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico and Suriname form a list of 21 countries around the world that will eliminate malaria by 2020. Although other countries have reported an increase in the number of cases that threaten the achievement of the reduction targets and the appropriate elimination of disease in the region by 2030.
PAHO director Carissa F. Etienne said the elimination of malaria is now closer than ever, but she thinks that "we can not trust or loosen up our efforts, control efforts must be undermined when the incidence has recovered," he maintained.
Malaria is an endemic disease in 20 Latin American countries and the Caribbean, one less than in 2017. After the elimination in Paraguay. Since 2015, malaria cases in the region have increased by 71%. 95% of the total was concentrated in five countries, mainly in specific areas where the efforts against the disease were weakened. Many people are affected by indigenous people, people living in a difficult situation and mobile populations, such as miners and migrants.
"If we want to eliminate malaria, we need more investment and we will increase access to prevention, diagnosis and rapid treatment of this disease in communities that are concentrated in most cases," said Marcos Espinal, director of the Department of Communication Diseases and Determinants. Environmental health of PAHO.
The Malaria Day in America was established by the member states of PAHO in 2008, the Board of Directors and is an opportunity to highlight the need to invest in the prevention and control of disease in the Americas. It is estimated that regional efforts coordinated by PAHO and its partners have saved hundreds of lives by reducing the number of deaths by 30% in 2000-2017.