Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes. Symptoms of malaria include fever, headache and vomiting, and usually appear between 10 and 15 days after the mosquito bite. Almost half of the world’s population is at risk for malaria.
With the right tools, malaria is preventable and treatable. Increased malaria prevention and control measures have reduced mortality rates by nearly 50 percent worldwide since 2000.
Hispaniola, which includes Haiti and the Dominican Republic, is the only remaining island in the Caribbean where malaria is still endemic. The majority of cases occur in Haiti, where about 17,000 cases were confirmed in 2014.
In addition to causing sickness and death, malaria has a negative impact on Haiti’s already fragile economy, exacerbating poverty, decreasing productivity, and hindering foreign investment in a country where more than half of the population already lives on less than U.S. $2.44 per day.
While there were only 500 cases recorded in the Dominican Republic in 2014, the risk of malaria in the country will persist as long as it occurs anywhere on the island of Hispaniola.
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) vision is for a world free of malaria, which can be achieved through country-by-country elimination of the disease, followed by global malaria eradication.
Haiti and the Dominican Republic now have the opportunity to join the list of malaria-free countries. A 2013 assessment demonstrated that with the right resources and careful planning and implementation, malaria can be eliminated from the island of Hispaniola. The governments of both countries are committed to malaria elimination and cross-border collaboration.