Monday, October 12, 2009


The island of Hispaniola is the home to the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. It is also one of the few remaining regions in the Caribbean with endemic malaria.

"In September 2008, The Carter Center, in partnership with the Dominican Republic and Haiti, launched a historic one-year initiative to help the two countries and their other partners accelerate the elimination of two devastating mosquito-borne infections--malaria and lymphatic filariasis--from Hispaniola" (Carter). "Lymphatic Filariasis, known as Elephantiasis, puts at risk more than a billion people in more than 80 countries. Over 120 million have already been affected by it, over 40 million of them are seriously incapacitated and disfigured by the disease." Like malaria, lymphatic filariasis is caused by a blood parasite that is "transmitted by mosquitoes" (WHO).

"The leaders of Haiti and the Dominican Republic agreed Thursday to cooperate in a campaign aimed at eradicating the last vestiges of malaria from the islands of the Caribbean by 2020. What remains uncertain is how to fund the roughly $250 million effort, which also aims to eliminate lymphatic filariasis, on the two-nation island of Hispaniola" (Bluestein). Although the cost of eradication is high, it is diminutive when compared with the long-term economic damage that is caused by these parasites. "Malaria and lymphatic filariasis are costly economic burdens, as both diseases are caused by--and create--additional poverty. An outbreak of malaria on the island in 2004 cost the Dominican Republic an estimated US $200 million in lost revenue from tourism. Since then, two transient outbreaks of malaria in the Bahamas and another in Jamaica have been imported from Hispaniola, which also is the source of several cases of malaria imported to the U.S. each year" (Carter).

Image: Filariasis parasite. Wikimedia Commons.
Bluestein, Greg. "Hispaniola leaders aim to eradicate malaria". Associated Press. 10 October 2009.
Carter Center, The. "The Hispaniola Initiative."
WHO: World Health Organization. Lymphatic Filariasis

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