Collaborative initiative aims for elimination by 2020.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced a $29.9 million grant to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Foundation to accelerate malaria elimination efforts on the island of Hispaniola, which includes the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The CDC Foundation is leading a consortium of malaria partners aiming to eliminate indigenous cases of malaria on the island by 2020. Hispaniola is the only remaining island in the Caribbean where malaria is endemic. In Haiti, where the majority of Hispaniola’s malaria cases occur, there were more than 20,000 confirmed cases in 2013.
“Elimination of malaria transmission in Haiti, coupled with eliminating the few remaining cases in the Dominican Republic, will create a malaria-free zone across the Caribbean,” said Larry Slutsker, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria. “This will be an historic public health milestone for the Western Hemisphere, and will greatly reduce the risk of reintroduction of malaria to nearby countries where it’s already been eliminated.”
The Haiti Malaria Elimination Consortium (HaMEC) being formed through this grant will work closely with the international community and partners in Hispaniola to eliminate indigenous cases of malaria in Haiti. HaMEC includes CDC, the CDC Foundation, the Haiti Ministry of Public Health and Population, the Dominican Republic Ministry of Public Health, the Pan American Health Organization, The Carter Center, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. HaMEC activities will build from the 2009 binational malaria elimination plan, improvements in malaria diagnostics and surveillance made possible by recent support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, as well as earthquake response funding provided in 2012 by the U.S. Government.
The HaMEC organizations will collectively work to assist the countries of Hispaniola in developing, adopting, and implementing an evidence-based strategy and operational plan for achieving malaria elimination; securing the additional financial resources needed to achieve elimination; improving and refining malaria surveillance systems to support decision-making and action; and reducing malaria transmission through implementation of effective community-based interventions that are tailored to the level of malaria risk in high-prevalence areas, ultimately leading to elimination by 2020. While the grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will provide initial support for the malaria elimination effort in Haiti, additional financial resources will be required and sought by the consortium to achieve the 2020 elimination target.
“We are grateful to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for this generous grant,” said Charles Stokes, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “Eliminating malaria in Haiti will lessen the burden on Hispaniola’s public health systems, freeing up resources to tackle other pressing health issues. Additionally, eliminating malaria will result in increased productivity and economic gains for the people of Hispaniola as well as attract foreign investment and safeguard existing philanthropic investments.”