Of the 21 malaria-endemic countries in the Americas, Guyana is among the 18 which have expressed commitment to eliminate malaria. Moreover, Guyana, like these other countries, is being guided by the Plan of Action for Malaria Elimination [2016-2020].
The plan is one that focuses on the continued advancement of Member States of the Region of the Americas towards the elimination of local malaria transmission.
According to Senior Minister of Public Health, Ms. Volda Lawrence, “this plan is one that 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.”
In addition, the vision of the National Malaria Programme remains focused on promoting malaria-free communities in Guyana, Minister Lawrence assured.
The mission, therefore, 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, Minister Lawrence said.
During the period 2000 to 2014, Guyana achieved almost 50 percent reduction in malaria cases and in 2018, the drive has continued towards the elimination of the disease, as the country strengthens the rollout 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 Minister shared.
As such, she noted that 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 the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation [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 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 anti-malarials such as Coartem (artemether-lumefantrine).
To tackle the prevailing malaria, here in Guyana there are some innovative strategies, which have been rolled out, inclusive of the ongoing training of miners and loggers in the endemic region of Guyana in testing and treating themselves for malaria.
In fact, 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 One, Seven, Eight, and Nine. According to Minister Lawrence, “these remain our humble achievements as we attempt to mobilize a response that is timely and effective in the fight against malaria.”
The Minister’s remarks come even as Malaria Day in the Americas 2018 is observed. World Malaria Day is observed annually on November 6 and this year saw PAHO/WHO calling on countries of the Americas to bring an end to malaria.
In September 2005, the 46th Directing Council of PAHO adopted resolution CD46.R13, which articulated the need to develop policies and strategies to achieve a 75 percent 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.
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