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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.
The whole population of the interior of Suriname has access to insecticide-treated bednets and active case detection is carried out. “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.
And when clusters of malaria cases are found, a team is sent to the area to carry out mass screening for the malaria parasite.
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 are reducing the disease’s prevalence in French Guyana as well — largely due to insecticide spraying on the border of the two countries — and there are plans to share Suriname’s expertise with nearby countries.