28 June 2013
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica - Ten countries in Central America and the Caribbean have joined a regional initiative that aims to eliminate malaria by 2020, with support of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Announced on Thursday during a regional health summit of the Council of Health Ministers from Central America and the Dominican Republic (COMISCA) in San Jose, Costa Rica, the initiative seeks to unify and accelerate efforts to eliminate malaria in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
The Global Fund, which is currently supporting malaria grants in Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Dominican Republic and Haiti, has set aside an additional US$10 million for the regional initiative.
The region was invited to take part as "early applicant" under the new funding model, and is moving forward to apply for the regional funding, expected to be available in 2014.
"We subscribe with great pleasure the Declaration for the Elimination of Malaria in Mesoamerica and Hispaniola Island in 2020, with the assurance that it will be of vast benefit for our people, and that it will allow us to improve the quality of life of the population in the region," said Dr Daisy Maria Corrales, Minister of Health of Costa Rica and Chair Pro Tempore of COMISCA.
"The Global Fund welcomes the unified and firm political commitment by Ministers of Health and representatives participating in the regional gathering to accelerate efforts towards eliminating malaria by 2020," said Silvio Martinelli, the Global Fund's Regional Manager for Latin America and the Caribbean.
"We are confident that in 7 years' time the malaria map will be further reduced making the entire Caribbean and Mesoamerica a malaria-free zone. It is an honor for us to partner with you in this journey," Martinelli said.
Cases of malaria in Latin America and the Caribbean have fallen drastically since 2000.
The Hispaniola, an island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic, is the only Caribbean island where malaria still persists, representing a financial burden to their economies, especially in the agriculture and tourism industries.
The Global Fund has contributed substantial grants to fight malaria over the period 2004-2013 to Haiti (US$45 million) and the Dominican Republic (US$7.3 million) for the period 2009-2013.