Washington, D.C. (April 25, 2019) – This World Malaria Day, members of the global health community laud the dedication of thousands of Haitian health workers committed to accelerating efforts to eliminate malaria in Haiti. Their hard work has helped cut incidence of the mosquito-borne disease there by as much as half since 2010. Malaria, a preventable yet deadly illness, threatens half the world’s population and kills a child every two minutes.
Haiti’s Ministry of Health and Population is testing, treating, and tracking malaria cases nationwide, with expanding efforts underway in hard-hit rural areas. This work is supported by Malaria Zero, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-led consortium of NGOs, universities, and local ministries of health. By 2017, Grand’Anse, a remote region in southwestern Haiti, carried more than 50 percent of the island nation’s malaria burden.
Malaria interventions in five contiguous communes of Grand’Anse — Les Irois, Anse d’Hainault, Dame Marie, Chambellan, and Moron — are improving access to health services and promoting local development. Haitian outreach teams have visited more than 23,000 families in the mountainous terrain, where many must walk an hour or more to access medical care, to conduct door-to-door malaria assessments. Using this personalized approach, local teams record individual health data with tablets and treat those diagnosed with malaria. Digitized health information feeds into a disease surveillance system that monitors malaria incidence and outbreaks.
The results are dramatic: One year after strengthening malaria monitoring, improving access to testing and treatment, and spraying at-risk indoor areas, a survey conducted by Malaria Zero showed that transmission has fallen significantly. This year, Malaria Zero will support the expansion of these efforts across the entire region, potentially protecting nearly half a million people.
“This World Malaria Day, I congratulate Haiti on its incredible momentum in the battle to end malaria,” said Dr. Michelle Chang, Director of Malaria Zero, and CDC Medical Epidemiologist. “Strong partners united in innovative approaches to disease tracking and treatment save lives every day in Grand’Anse.This program could serve as a global model for areas suffering from malaria.”
Though Haiti and the Dominican Republic are the last malaria-endemic countries in the Caribbean, progress is happening: In 2017, the countries were honored as Malaria Champions of the Americas by the Pan American Health Organization. Last year the island of Hispaniola, home to these two nations, saw fewer than 10,000 malaria cases.
Since 2000, the world has made extraordinary global progress in the fight to end malaria, with the Americas leading the way toward elimination of this disease. Between 2000 and 2015, increased malaria interventions cut malaria deaths by 62 percent in the Americas. But progress has been uneven and in recent years has stalled. Today, 138 million people in the Americas are at risk of contracting malaria. Partnerships between government, nonprofits, and the private sector like those in Haiti are key to a malaria-free future.
“The groundbreaking work in Haiti is moving us closer than ever to ending malaria in the Americas,” said Margaret Reilly McDonnell, Executive Director of the United Nations Foundation’s Nothing But Nets campaign. “Zero malaria starts with us. Working together using programs like these, we must step up the fight against this terrible disease.”
Beyond health, malaria worsens poverty, keeping adults from work and children out of school. Economic productivity is crucial to improving the quality of life in Haiti, where more than half of people live on less than $2.44 a day. More partnerships and resources are needed to continue cutting-edge programs and end malaria for good. For more information about malaria elimination in Haiti, visit www.malariazeroalliance.org.