Santo Domingo. Efforts to eliminate two mosquito-borne diseases –malaria and lymphatic filariasis– in Haiti and the Dominican Republic are ongoing, with the first of four binational meetings on the issue to take place in 2012, held in Santo Domingo on March 29 - 30 this year.
Participating are technical teams of the National Center for Tropical Disease Control, the Dominican Republic's Health Ministry and the National Malaria Control Program of the Haitian Health Ministry. Also participating in the strategic meeting are experts from The Carter Center, The Panamerican Health Organization (OPS) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
"It's exciting that cooperative elimination efforts in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, which were suspended following the earthquake, are now being resumed," said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, whose Atlanta-based Carter Center has provided technical support for the 10-year plan to eliminate malaria and lymphatic filariasis on the island of Hispaniola.
"The international community should applaud and support the countries' desire to work together to achieve this public health milestone." President Carter and a high-level delegation traveled to the border area and capitols of both nations in October 2009 to help promote the launch of the binational plan and build on earlier technical and financial support provided by The Carter Center.
"The earthquake that struck Haiti shocked the international community, especially the Haitians, who lost everything. We are taking this opportunity, during the reconstruction of Haiti, to be more emphatic regarding decisions, actions and funding to create a future free of two crippling but preventable neglected diseases, that keep us shackled in cycles of poverty," said Marie Denise Milord, binational coordinator. "That's what the Dominican and Haitian experts are doing here today-protecting our future."
The initiative to eliminate these diseases on Hispaniola is derived from the agreements between the health ministries of both countries signed in 2001. In 2004 and 2005, the binational technical teams for malaria and lymphatic filariasis held meetings.
In 2006, The Carter Center's International Task Force for Disease Eradication (ITFDE), a group comprised of 12 international experts in infectious diseases, said it was "technically possible, medically desirable and would be economically beneficial" to eliminate these two parasitic diseases from the island.
This recommendation was implemented in 2008-2009 through a binational project supported by The Carter Center, to accelerate the elimination process and obtain international support to carry out the work.