Suriname has already hit malaria MDG
The country of Suriname in northern South America has already exceeded its 2015 Millennium Development Goal target for the reduction of malaria.
Leopoldo Villegas, consultant for the Global Fund Malaria Program in Suriname, presented a poster on the success at the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene conference in London last week (14 September).
Part of Millennium Development Goal six is to halt and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria.
Villegas said that rates of malaria in Suriname fell by 70 per cent between 2001 and 2006, and there have only been 700 cases of malaria this year – a 90 per cent reduction since 2001.
Suriname’s malaria decline is the result of an intensive campaign that began in 2005, Villegas said.
“We have the whole population of the interior of Suriname covered with insecticide-treated nets, we have passive case detection through the primary healthcare system and we have active case detection – so we don’t wait for patients to come to us, we look for them, we have mobile teams,” said Villegas.
These measures are complemented by insecticide spraying in high-risk areas, a comprehensive public awareness campaign and good detection systems for possible epidemics.
“When we had a lot of malaria our epidemic detection was at 70 or 200 cases. Now the epidemic starts when you have three cases reported,” he said.
“If three cases are coming from the same place we automatically activate a team who go there and have a mass screening of people to see who have parasites.”
Chris Curtis, professor of entomology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said Suriname’s progress was excellent, but warned the campaign must be maintained.
“They can’t afford to relax – the parasites and the mosquitoes are still there and if they do relax then there is the risk that eventually it will come back,” he told SciDev.Net.
He said the need for constant vigilance was demonstrated by the situation in neighbouring French Guyana.
“I think now French Guyana has the worst malaria rates in South America, which is a great shame because in the late 1940s they eradicated malaria in the inhabited north using DDT house spraying,” he said.
Villegas said Suriname’s malaria prevention measures have reduced the number of cases in French Guiana, and there are plans to replicate efforts in other South American countries.
“We’re now trying to put down all the data and start publishing to show that we can work in border areas between two governments, it doesn’t need to be one side,” he said.
Read this story on the Science and Development Network.