26 Apr

 PAHO underlines importance of sustained malaria efforts and protection of health workers during COVID-19 pandemic

Washington, D.C., 25 April 2020 (PAHO/WHO) — Work to forestall, detect and treat malaria within the Americas must be sustained while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, PAHO/WHO experts said today, citing solidarity with the world community in commemorating World Malaria Day. 

It is crucial to sustain efforts in malaria diagnosis, treatment, and surveillance, ensuring that best practices to safeguard doctors and communities are followed and aligned with national COVID-19 guidelines, Marcos Espinal, Director of the Department of Communicable Diseases said. In virtual meetings with national malaria program leaders, and partners, experts highlighted to countries of the region the critical importance of maintaining the work to forestall, detect and treat malaria, in synergy with the COVID-19 pandemic response. Interventions must consider the importance of lowering disease and death caused by malaria, while ensuring the security of communities and doctors, they added.

 PAHO/WHO has provided appropriate guidance on a way to conduct malaria activities in various scenarios, given the changing context of the COVID-19 situation within the Americas. Ensuring the acceptable testing and treatment of patients in addition as core malaria prevention measures like insecticide-treated nets and indoor residual spraying are important strategies for reducing the strain on health systems, they said. Since implementing the Diagnosis-Treatment-Investigation and Response (DTI-R) strategy in 2018, which links to WHO’s Framework for Malaria Elimination, malaria-endemic areas within the Region have guided their malaria elimination efforts toward preventing, diagnosing, treating, and tracking down cases. Protecting the gains against malaria and moving forward with key malaria interventions like reinforcing health and surveillance systems also contributes to higher understanding of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, PAHO experts noted. Malaria elimination achievements and challenges within the Americas In 2019, Argentina was certified as malaria free, following Paraguay's achievement of that goal in 2018. Republic of El Salvador has completed 3 years without local transmission and is probably going to be certified as malaria free this year. Belize also had no local transmission in 2019, putting it on course to be certified as malaria-free in 2022. 

However, overall, consistent with WHO's World Malaria Report 2019, there have been no global gains in reducing new infections over the amount 2014 to 2018. Challenges within the Americas include a rise in transmission associated with gold mining and movements of vulnerable population between and within countries, in addition as weakening of the actions of malaria programs that will worsen within the context of COVID-19. The Pan American Health Organization works with the countries of the Americas to enhance the health and quality of lifetime of their peoples. Founded in 1902, it's the world's oldest international public health organization. It is the regional office for the Americas of WHO and is that the specialized health agency of the inter-American system. 

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