‘We can eliminate malaria in Haiti with support from Global Fund and others’ | Opinion

In 2018, a potential vaccine for malaria was to be tested in three African countries.
In 2018, a potential vaccine for malaria was to be tested in three African countries. Getty Images

On Oct. 10, world leaders affirmed their commitment to The Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, collectively mobilizing $14 billion to save 16 million lives around the world by 2030.

As the president of the Global Fund’s Country Coordinating Mechanism in Haiti, presiding over the country’s partnership with the Global Fund and ensuring the most vulnerable populations has access to life-saving treatments, I stand in solidarity with global leaders and partners. They have made this a success by giving their support to such an important initiative for our future. As we step up the fight and deliver on the promises that accompanied these major pledges, it is important to celebrate the success, but to also consider the immense work ahead if we are to eliminate these diseases in countries where malaria still is a deadly threat.

As we commemorate Malaria Day in the Americas on Wednesday, I am encouraged by new data that show significant progress against malaria in my country.

The presence of malaria in Haiti is because of many factors, often made worse by a weak health system, unpredictable natural disasters and insufficient resources. But, considering these difficult challenges, we still have been able to see tangible results in the fight against this epidemic. From 2010 to 2018, malaria cases in Haiti have declined by more than 50 percent, to under 10,000 cases a year. In 2018, there were fewer than 8,500 confirmed malaria cases compared to 2017, when more than 19,000 malaria cases were confirmed.

Haiti can eliminate malaria can be eliminated in Haiti if we make the decisive efforts to act boldly on this vision. I have seen not only how malaria has affected the health of my fellow citizens, but also how families’ economic potential is weakened when they are exposed to this disease. As the mother of three children, it is important for me to fight to ensure that mothers everywhere have the resources to prevent this disease, including access to bed nets, diagnosis and treatment for their children.

This is why President Jovenel Moïse and I have made the elimination of malaria in Haiti a national priority. We have committed resources to ensure that this goal becomes a reality. Thankfully, we are not alone in our commitment. Haiti’s efforts to combat malaria is also strengthened by the major contributions of the Global Fund, which has invested almost $75 million to date to make Haiti malaria-free one day.

With these investments in strengthening Haiti’s health system, many of our most vulnerable now have access to primary healthcare services, including malaria testing and treatment. These improved services help us get closer to not only eliminating malaria, but also to fighting other diseases that are considered priority.

This progress must be celebrated, of course, but we must also recognize that this progress is fragile, and we cannot let up our efforts yet. For the past year, Haiti has been going through some dark days, but our health sector has never diminished its zeal knowing that we still have many challenges to face. It is my duty to continue to work closely with the health sector and, most important, to not allow the health of our people and the success we have made thus far to regress.

I call on our global partners to stand with us and support our investments in the health of the Haitian people so that one day, malaria becomes a distant memory in both Haiti and the Americas. As I continue to work with the Global Fund and other partners to align resources with Haiti’s priorities during this challenging time, I acknowledge the strength, resiliency and determination of this country to engage in bi-national malaria elimination efforts with the Dominican Republic, our eagerness to adopt best practices and our commitment to remain engaged with endemic countries in the region joining us on the path toward the elimination of malaria.

I urge global partners join me to intensify the fight against malaria if we want to achieve the ambitious goal of eliminating this disease and, ultimately, to become a model of progress for the Americas.

Martine Moïse is the first lady of Haiti