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By: Emile Dawisha

Private sector, UN partners team up to support Ecuador’s malaria elimination push

September 19, 2023
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This century, the Americas region has taken a huge leap forward in the fight against malaria. Between 2000 and 2021, Latin America and the Caribbean saw a 60% percent drop in malaria casesArgentina, Paraguay,  El Salvador, and Belize have all been certified malaria-free by the World Health Organization in recent years. Several more countries are not far behind.

One of these countries nearing elimination is Ecuador, where malaria has existed for centuries – particularly in Amazonian, indigenous, and remote coastal communities. Since the early 2000’s, Ecuador’s malaria elimination campaign has prioritized these last-mile communities, training thousands of local health workers to diagnose, treat, and track malaria cases (see Wuampiu’s story below); and equipping them with insecticide-treated bed nets, anti-malarial drugs, and other 21st century malaria tools. The result has been a stunning decline in malaria cases and deaths: from 800,000 locally-acquired cases in 2000 to 241 in 2014, and malaria mortality dropping to zero. 

Unfortunately, since 2014 Ecuador’s elimination campaign has faced considerable challenges. Economic instability across the region, particularly in Venezuela, has triggered a rise in cross-border migration. This in turn has reintroduced the malaria parasite to many border regions throughout Ecuador. In addition, a spate of recent natural disasters – including an earthquake and numerous fatal floods and landslides – has caused widespread damage to health infrastructure and increased risk of vector-borne diseases. 

These economic and climate crises fueled a slight resurgence of malaria – from 241 locally-acquired cases in 2014 to 2,175 in 2021. Today, Ecuador’s malaria elimination campaign is at a key inflection point. The disease is making a comeback in many parts of Ecuador; and yet, with sustained commitments from both the government and private sector, the country could still achieve elimination within this decade. 

Global health orgs and outdoor/travel brand team up to support Ecuador’s elimination campaign

UN and private-sector partners are teaming up to help tackle the rising malaria rates in Ecuador and support the country’s continued push towards zero malaria. Vestergaard, one of the world’s leading bed-net manufacturers, is donating 50,000 PermaNet® 2.0 insecticide-treated bed nets to Ecuador’s Ministry of Health. Cotopaxi, a sustainable outdoor gear and apparel brand named after a volcano in Ecuador, is covering shipping costs. The bed nets arrived in March, and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is working with Ecuador’s Ministry of Health to deliver the bed nets to communities that need them most. 

Vestergaard and Cotopaxi are both ‘Certified B Corporations. Each developed sustainable social impact programs that have helped millions of people in low-income countries. Cotopaxi concentrates its philanthropic programs on Latin American communities facing extreme poverty. Vestergaard, meanwhile, develops innovative global health products that fight malaria and neglected tropical diseases, and enhance food security. This year, the company is celebrating the delivery of the 1 billionth PermaNet® insecticide-treated bed net, a remarkable milestone that has impacted nearly 2 billion lives. Check out this video to learn more. 

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