Orlando Chan, 63, joined Belize’s vector control program when he was 18.
“There were a lot of people suffering from malaria at the time, they were recruiting for the program, and also [I was] looking for something meaningful to do in my life. I joined the team as an environmental assistant. Later on, I became an evaluator and also worked as a sprayer. Over the years, I also took the role of Chief of Operations for the entire program.”
In the 1970’s, over half of all Belize localities reported malaria cases.
“The history of Belize’s malaria fight has come a long way,” Mr. Chan said. “We would go out into the field, like from six in the morning, visiting houses from village to village, and we would come back at ten at night, and still hadn’t visited all the people we needed to treat for that day. It was so prevalent in that time.”
45 years later, Belize is on the cusp of achieving malaria-free certification from the WHO, having reported zero non-imported cases for three straight years.
“The mosquitoes are still here, so we still need to do all those interventions that we periodically do. Spraying of houses, larviciding, and educating people. I think those are the three main things we must continue to do, to keep malaria under control,” Mr. Chan said.
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