Aidel Montero is on the frontline, protecting her community from malaria during the COVID-19 pandemic. Aidel is 29 and lives in El Turi, a small community not far from El Sena, Pando, the municipality hardest hit by malaria in the Amazon region of Bolivia.
There are only a few houses here, scattered along the banks of the river which is at the centre of community life. Aidel’s house is strategically located right in the middle of it and serves as a diagnostic point not only for this community but also for neighbouring ones.
In recent years, major progress has been achieved globally against malaria, one of the world’s deadliest infectious diseases. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has reversed many of these improvements.
World Malaria Day is a reminder that efforts and investments are needed at all levels to build resilient and sustainable systems for health, including strong community systems essential for pandemic preparedness and response.
In partnership with the Global Fund and UNDP, 185 community-based malaria diagnostic points led by community volunteers serve people in the Amazon region of Bolivia, providing access to care even for the most isolated communities. The community volunteers receive supplies needed to control the disease and constant technical support from mobile teams of medical professionals. This means people do not have to travel long distances to seek malaria diagnosis or care, have timely access to services, tests and medicines, and a better chance of successfully detecting and treating the disease.
“I go house to house to give information because prevention is important. That’s why in my community we have very few cases.” — Aidel Montero, Community Volunteer, El Sena, Bolivia
In parallel, distribution of mosquito nets continued uninterrupted, resulting in 81,727 nets distributed to people in risk areas out of 88,200 initially planned. Additional trucks and motorcycles for mobile teams enabled them to continue to reach the most remote areas. While the number of suspected cases of malaria tested through community services decreased from 11,539 in 2019 to 9,048 in 2020, mitigation measures ensured continued diagnostic and treatment services. And in 2021, the number of cases tested in the community actually increased to 14,847.
In line with UNDP’s Strategic Plan 2022–2025 and its HIV and Health Strategy 2022–2025: Connecting the dots — Towards a more equitable, healthier and sustainable future, UNDP partners with the Global Fund, governments, civil society and private sector to support and strengthen multi-sectoral national responses to HIV, TB and malaria through integrated policy, programme and capacity development support.