Central American and Caribbean countries rally to eliminate malaria

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria announced on Friday that ten countries in Central America and the Caribbean joined a regional initiative with the goal of eliminating malaria by 2020.

The Dominican Republic, Haiti, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico joined the initiative at a regional health summit of the Council of Health Ministers from Central America and the Dominican Republic. The Global Fund set aside an additional $10 million for the regional initiative, which is called the Declaration for the Elimination of Malaria in Mesoamerica and Hispaniola Island in 2020.

"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," Daisy Corrales, the chair pro tempore of COMISCA, said.

Between 2004 and 2013, the Global Fund contributed $45 million to fight malaria in Haiti. The fund contributed $7.3 million between 2009 and 2013 to the Dominican Republic.

"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," Silvio Martinelli, the Global Fund's regional manager for Latin America and the Caribbean, said. "We are confident that in seven 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."

Cases of malaria have dropped significantly in the Caribbean and Latin America since 2000.