Malaria cases in Mexico have dramatically declined — from a record high of 25,023 in 1998 to 4,895 in 2001, and 1,985 in 2008. And they have done so without the use of DDT. Mexico was committed to phasing out DDT by 2002 under the North American Free Trade Agreement.
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The 1998 major outbreak in Oaxaca sparked a new approach in the fight against the disease. Since then, the number of cases has declined annually, with no malaria-related deaths recorded between 2000 and 2007. Mexico’s approach has become the gold standard for malaria control across Latin America, inspiring highly successful campaigns from Central America to Ecuador.
“We have given communities the means to take care of themselves,” explains Dr Mario Henry Rodriguez López. He was one of the lead researchers who developed the successful IDRC
-supported malaria-control strategy in Mexico.
The key is working together. Scientists pinpoint sources of malaria; communities destroy mosquito breeding grounds, such as algae in rivers, and spray homes with a safer pesticide. New ways of tracking malaria also allow for quick action before an outbreak becomes an epidemic.
Dr Rodriguez, now Director General of Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health and a multiple winner of the prestigious Jorge Rosenkranz award for his anti-malarial work, was also named 2009 Pan American Health Organization “Malaria Champion of the Americas.”
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