Colombia is grappling with a significant health challenge, as the National Institute of Health reports 96,000 malaria cases in its latest epidemiological bulletin. The Ministry of Health in Colombia has declared urgent measures to address this situation, focusing on the disease caused by the ‘plasmodium’ parasite.
Rising Malaria Cases in Colombia
The recent report indicates an addition of 1,915 new malaria cases in Colombia, bringing the total number of infections to 96,156. Of these, 1,612 cases were moderate, but a majority, 94,544, were complicated cases. The most prevalent infection is caused by plasmodium vivax, accounting for 60,785 cases (60% of the reports), followed by plasmodium falciparum with 34,365 cases (35.7%), and 1,006 mixed infections (1.0%).
Geographic Spread and Health Measures
The departments in Colombia most affected by malaria are Nariño, Córdoba, Antioquia, and Chocó. In these regions, 91% of the infections were non-complicated. In response to this health crisis, the Ministry of Health issued Resolution No. 2073 of 2023, updating the technical and operational guidelines of the National Program for the Prevention, Control, and Elimination of Malaria in Colombia. This resolution aligns with global and regional objectives to eliminate malaria, a disease primarily affecting rural and dispersed populations, often associated with poverty or lack of adequate health services.
Innovative Strategies and Volunteer Collaboration
To combat malaria efficiently, the Ministry of Health emphasizes the need to characterize a network for malaria diagnosis in municipalities, including the implementation of Volunteer Collaborators (ColVol). This strategy involves participation in direct and indirect evaluations of performance for the malaria diagnosis and entomology network, mapping malaria risk within departments or districts, and annual reporting to the National Reference Laboratory on the susceptibility of vectors to public health insecticides.
The Ministry also highlighted the role of Volunteer Collaborators (ColVol) in local disease care programs, representing an innovation in Colombia aimed at strengthening direct care in areas where access to health services is intermittent and where there is a high prevalence of the disease. This strategy has been successfully implemented in some Latin American countries. Volunteer Collaborators will be placed in territories with insufficient or absent malaria diagnostic availability, with specific areas and functions to be defined by the Ministry of Health and Social Protection.