Since mid-2018, the South American country is officially malaria-free. How did this happen and how are the other Latin American countries doing?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Paraguay is the first Latin American country to eradicate malaria altogether. Although the elimination of a disease in a whole country is not easy and it takes years of work to achieve this goal, for WHO the government program implemented in Paraguay to combat the disease is noteworthy.
In 1940, the registry of malaria reached more than 80,000 cases. However, WHO knew that Paraguay was close to achieving its goal, which is why it named it in the E-2020 initiative in 2016. This is a project created to help countries that are about to eradicate malaria. According to the WHO, "other E-2020 countries in the Americas include Belize, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico and Suriname."
How did Paraguay achieve this goal?
The Paraguayans developed public policies aimed at ending the disease for 60 years, when there were many people affected by malaria. In 2011, the government of Paraguay created a five-year plan to establish what progress was made in this area; it also created educational plans to inform the population about the risks of malaria, where it contracted and what should be done in case of contamination, according to the BBC.
According to the WHO, in 2016 Paraguay reached the final phase of the elimination of Malaria, which consisted of training doctors with practical knowledge in case a patient was contaminated with malaria, that is, how to treat the disease, the steps to follow in a quarantine, what medicines to use and how to deal with the issue with the health authorities.
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How are the other Latin American countries?
Between 2000 and 2015, deaths from malaria have decreased by 61%. In addition, the cases of people with this disease have decreased by 62% throughout Latin America, highlighted the World Health Organization. The organization also explained that in countries like Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Saint Lucia have managed to eradicate this disease. In June 2018, Paraguay officially became the first country in the region to be free of this disease.
According to the Secretary-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, “it gives me great pleasure today to certify that Paraguay is officially free of malaria.” “Success stories like Paraguay’s show what is possible. If malaria can be eliminated in one country, it can be eliminated in all countries,” he said in the same statement.
However, the countries that have registered an increase in cases of people contaminated with malaria are Peru, Colombia and Venezuela between 2016 and 2017. In general, in Latin America "about 20 million people live in areas of high risk of malaria ", said the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
LatinAmerican Post | Miguel Díaz
Translated from "¿Qué hizo Paraguay para ser el primer país latinoamericano en estar libre de malaria?"