The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) presented this Friday the “Malaria Champions of the Americas 2023” award, in which the Dominican Republic was the winner, thanks to the strategies developed, prevention and control actions, as well as its progress towards the eradication of the disease.
The country shares the award with Belize and Suriname, and the Mexican state of Quintana Roo and the Brazilian city of Manaus were also recognized, in an event in which 28 countries competed, and which is annually organized to commemorate “Malaria Day in the Americas”.
Dr. José Luis Cruz Raposo, director of the Center for Prevention and Control of Vector-Borne Diseases and Zoonoses (Cecovez), received the award and stressed that the success achieved by the country in the fight against the disease was due to prevention strategies, such as epidemiological surveillance, the timely accompaniment of international organizations, which has allowed us to achieve this award.
“These prevention actions have mainly allowed us to improve the health of the population, this is our goal. We will continue to develop effective work that will allow us to have a positive impact and overcome the challenges that exist until the disease is eradicated in the country,” said Dr. Cruz Raposo.
Among the efforts that stand out, is that: the Dominican Republic achieved the interruption of malaria transmission in the town of Los Tres Brazos, in the year 2022, this being the main urban focus of the disease in recent years.
“During the period 2014 to 2019 the neighborhood “Los Tres Brazos” represented the main focus of malaria in the Dominican Republic, but thanks to the efforts developed from 2020 to 2023, it has managed to reduce the incidence of malaria by 99.5%, that is, so far in 2023, it has only had two cases this focus,” he stressed.
He specified that “the provinces of Azua and San Juan de la Maguana represent active foci, however, the commitment is to maintain this effort and motivate the existing foci to achieve these objectives. The Ministry of Health, through Cecovez, will continue to work hard, and possibly, before the end of the year, malaria transmissions in the country will be reduced to zero”.
“Malaria Champions of the Americas 2023 is an award given to those countries that demonstrate that they have sufficient evidence that they are achieving malaria elimination in their territories, either at the municipal or national level, with good practices that can inspire other countries.
This award is a collaborative effort between PAHO, the United Nations Foundation, the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, the Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs, Florida International University and the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Health, since 2009.
Last February, during the 4th World Malaria Forum, held in Cape Town, South Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) recognized the Dominican Republic for the results achieved in its fight to eliminate malaria, after international organizations verified the epidemiological behavior of the last three years, which shows a significant trend towards eradication.
Malaria is a disease caused by parasites of the Plasmodium genus, which are transmitted to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes of the Anopheles species. It is potentially fatal and significantly affects vulnerable populations living in areas with limited access to health services.
Symptoms can range from fever and headache to severe, life-threatening forms. Malaria is among the more than 30 diseases and related conditions targeted for elimination as part of the PAHO-led initiative to eliminate communicable diseases by 2030.