The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is supporting Paraguay to achieve World Health Organization (WHO) certification as a malaria free country. To achieve this important certification, IOM is working closely with Paraguay’s Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare – with financial support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria – in implementing the project Strengthening of the National Strategy for the Prevention of the Re-introduction of Malaria in Paraguay, since January 2016.
The project’s activities and strategies are implemented through different areas of the Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare, which include the Central Laboratory of Public Health, the General Directorate of Health Surveillance, the National Service of Eradication of Malaria and the General Directorate for Health Services and Networks Development.
The project has placed special emphasis on disease prevention, identification of potential cases, accurate diagnosis, treatment as well as the empowerment of resources and skills in the 18 health regions of the country. This ensures that there are appropriate local responses to possible cases, without the need to refer the patient to another health service.
The main component of the project is the training of the ministry officials, and through them, the creation of conducive public policies. During the first year of implementation (January to December 2016), 1,500 heath officials have been reached, including physicians, biochemists, nurses and general health staff. This has strengthened the capacities of 117 laboratories and around 1,472 health services, across all health regions of the country.
In Paraguay, there have been no autochthonous malaria cases since 2012. The cases that have been identified, were detected in people who came from endemic countries or geographical areas where local diagnoses of this disease are still recorded.
It is important to note that, according to Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), between 2000 and 2010, there was a reduction of 99.6 per cent in the number of malaria cases in Paraguay. This figure is considered relevant in the country's overall assessment towards certification.
In this joint effort with the Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare, IOM is the principal recipient of the funds and is responsible for the administration, monitoring and overall evaluation of the project.