Malaria day in the Americas – ‘End Malaria for Good’

─ Message from Min. Volda Lawrence for Malaria Day

In September 2005, the 46th Directing Council of the Pan American Health Organization adopted resolution CD46.R13 which articulated the need to develop policies and strategies to achieve a 75 per cent reduction in malaria cases in the Region of the Americas by 2015; moreover, this same resolution supports setting a day aside nationally to acknowledge past and current efforts in the fight against malaria, while advocating for greater awareness and social mobilization in an all-out effort to mitigate this public health threat. Against this backdrop, it was in October, 2007 at the 27th Pan American Sanitary Conference, that it was resolved for Malaria day in the Americas to be commemorated annually on November 6th, as it was on this date in 1980, that Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran first observed the malaria parasites in the blood of patients with fever.

Of the 21 malaria-endemic countries in the Americas, Guyana is among the 18 which have expressed their commitment to malaria elimination, and as such is guided by the Plan of Action for Malaria Elimination (2016-2020).  This plan focuses on the continued advancement of Member States of the Region of the Americas, towards the elimination of local malaria transmission in Member States that are endemic, while preventing the reestablishment of the disease in those that are non-endemic.

The vision of the National Malaria Programme, Ministry of Public Health remains one focused on promoting malaria-free communities in Guyana, while the mission is to interrupt the transmission of malaria in Guyana by improving access to early diagnosis and providing prompt, effective and safe anti-malarial treatment through a coordinated national response. During the period 2000 to 2014, Guyana achieved almost 50 per cent reduction in malaria cases and in 2018, the drive has continued towards the elimination of the disease as the country strengthens the roll-out of key strategies. Many of the high-burden districts in Guyana have had cases of malaria among the populations living in situations of vulnerability such as miners and loggers.

The Government of Guyana remains committed to the continued provision of the required resources while counting on support from key partners such as the Global Fund, USAID and PAHO/WHO. Some of the noteworthy achievements by Guyana in advancing the fight against malaria include:

  • improved surveillance efforts through revised data collection tools with emphasis on the timeliness of reporting;
  • updating key documents such as the National Strategic Plan (NSP) 2015-2020, its corresponding Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) plan and the development of an operational manual;
  • microscopy training of health workers in different regions of the country while focusing efforts on the monitoring of the efficacy of key antimalarials such as Coartem (artemether-lumefantrine).

There are some innovative strategies which are rolled out inclusive of the ongoing training of miners and loggers in the endemic region of Guyana in testing and treating themselves for malaria. During July 2018, the Ministry of Public Health distributed more than 92,000 long lasting insecticide treated nets (bed and hammock nets) to the at-risk populations in Regions 1, 7, 8, and 9. These remain our humble achievements as we attempt to mobilize a response that is timely and effective in the fight against malaria.

I appeal to all, to join in the commemoration of this important day.

Let’s End Malaria for Good!!