Suriname in top 3 for successful fight against malaria
Suriname recently received a plaque of appreciation for its efforts against malaria. Suriname along with Costa Rica and El Salvador is one of the three winners of the Malaria Champions award, presented by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to celebrate Malaria Day of the Americas, November 6. Advances in these countries, “assert further our belief that we can effectively eliminate malaria in several areas (in the region) in the coming years,” said Francisco Becerra, assistant director of PAHO, the regional office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Costa Rica has achieved a 100% decrease in malaria cases since 2000. For its part, El Salvador has achieved a reduction of 98.9% in cases since 2000, and has reported no deaths since 1998. In 2014, the country recorded only eight confirmed cases of malaria, two of which were imported. In Suriname, malaria has been virtually eliminated in the inland villages which previously had the highest rates of transmission of the Americas, and have been reduced to less than 90 indigenous cases each year. In 2014 and 2015, the country recorded no deaths from the disease. These advances were achieved through highly proactive and innovative interventions focused primarily in the areas and populations at risk, such as irregular mining operations. The country improved access to diagnosis and treatment in areas of difficult access, created a malaria clinic in the capital and generated public-private partnerships to stop the disease. All winners received a plaque of appreciation. The prizes have been awarded for the past eight years.
It is not the first time that the PAHO and the WHO have shown recognition for Suriname’s successful fight against malaria. In 2010 Suriname’s national Malaria Board at the Health Ministry won the award for its contribution to achieve a drop in the number of malaria infections in the hinterland. The drop in the number of cases meant that Suriname had already achieved its Millennium Development Goal for malaria in 2007. Suriname wants to eradicate malaria completely. It has almost achieved this goal. The malaria that is still present in Suriname originates from the remote gold mining areas. Travelers from neighboring countries also keep importing malaria which is why there is always the risk of reintroducing malaria in areas where the parasite had already been eradicated. Suriname’s Health Ministry gets support from the Global Fund and the Inter-American Development Bank in order to reach its goals.
End malaria for good is the theme of Malaria Day in the Americas 2016, held on November 6. It refers to the possibility that the world can end the disease by 2030. This day was created ten years ago to promote actions against malaria in the region, including the Malaria Champions Award. In the past eight years 21 initiatives from ten countries in the continent have received awards, and shared best practices and experiences in combating the disease.