Humanitarian Assistance Program Combats Malaria in Brazil’s Amazonas
A program geared to the reduction of malaria incidence and mortality was launched on January 20 in Manaus, Brazil, by the United States Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) Humanitarian Assistance Program in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
With reports of a high incidence of malaria, the program is focused toward the municipalities of Tefé, Ipixuna, Uarini and Eirunepé, in the state of Amazonas and will be implemented by the state government through the Amazonas Health Surveillance Foundation in partnership with the USAID and the Brazilian non-governmental organization Fundação Amazônica de Defesa da Biosfera, with support from SOUTHCOM.
USAID Brazil Mission Director, Lawrence Hardy, and SOUTHCOM Humanitarian Assistance Branch Chief Steven Carro joined the vice-governor of Amazonas, José Melo, and the Amazonas State Health Secretary, Wilson Alecrim, in Manaus to launch the joint malaria prevention program.
Over a 12-month period, beds and hammock nets will be distributed to 29 percent of the population of four target municipalities with the highest reported rates of malaria. As part of the effort, educational material printed in Portuguese and three other native languages spoken in the region will be handed out to local residents.
Only the municipality of Tefé reached 1,400 cases in 2010. Eirunepé registered over 3,300 cases over the same period, while Uarini and Ipixuna (the vice-governor’s hometown) reported 1,070 and 380 malaria cases respectively. Together, the four municipalities recorded almost 2,000 cases of falciparum malaria, the most severe variation of the disease.
In 2009, a similar program, supported by USAID in partnership with the Amazonas Health Surveillance Foundation and the Foundation for the Defense of the Amazon Biosphere, helped reduce malaria infection by 62 percent in the municipalities of Autazes, Careiro, Presidente Figueiredo, Manacapuru and Manaus.
Representatives from SOUTHCOM, the U.S. Military Liaison Office, and USAID Brazil visited one of the beneficiary communities on January 19, and were praised by residents who have enjoyed the protection that the mosquito nets have provided them. One resident said that before receiving the nets she had contracted malaria five times, and since receiving the mosquito nets she has not been affected by the disease.