UNDP, as a key partner supporting the Government of Vanuatu’s efforts to control malaria, is honoured for their contributions during the ceremony in Lenakel. (Photo: UNDP/Donald Wouloseje)

Lenakel, Vanuatu – The province of Tafea has been recognized for its achievement of eradicating malaria in an award ceremony organized by the Government of Vanuatu.

The elimination of malaria incidence in Tafea marks a great success of the malaria programme of the Ministry of Health, accomplished in collaboration with donors and development partners including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Fund. 

The efforts demonstrate the success of partnerships that the Government of Vanuatu has engaged in to address vector borne diseases, as well as other health issues affecting the well-being and livelihoods of the populations, particularly those living in rural areas of the country. 

A week-long workshop on malaria surveillance and control organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Malaria Programme preceded the ceremony. It was held on the island of Tanna and brought together health officials from across Vanuatu to strengthen skills on monitoring malaria incidence and ensuring the elimination status is maintained. 

Vanuatu’s Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Joe Natuman, and the Minister of Health, Hon. Jerome Ludvaun, were the official guests at the elimination award ceremony. 

“I am proud today as Acting Prime Minister of Vanuatu to declare Tanna as free of Malaria cases,” said Hon. Joe Natuman. “Although we have achieved the elimination status, the war is not yet over. We need to work together to eradicate Malaria not only in Tanna but the whole of Vanuatu.”

Anna Chernyshova, the Programme Manager at UNDP Pacific Office, was honoured during the ceremony for the support provided to the Government of Vanuatu through the Multi-Country Western Pacific Programme. Other key partners were also in attendance, including the WHO, the Global Fund and the Australia Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). 

“It’s exciting to see that real progress is being made to end malaria in Vanuatu,” said Anna Chernyshova, UNDP. “Reducing the malaria burden has a positive impact on economic growth and development. This achievement also aligns with the vision of the WHO Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016–2030 which seek to completely eradicate the disease in additional 35 countries by the year 2030 of which we hope Vanuatu will be one.”

The people of Tafea province as a whole have benefited from the malaria programme and the elimination of the disease is expected to open new opportunities for healthy living and economic development in the future. It has been a multi-decade intervention, with numerous partners involved (including DFAT, JICA, Rotary, UNICEF and the Global Fund) since the early 1980s. The first large scale distribution of long-lasting insecticidal nets to control malaria on the island of Tanna was introduced in 1992. 

“The basic formula that was adapted on Tanna which led to this success story today to eliminate malaria was community ownership and leadership through chiefs and community leaders,” noted the Director General of the Ministry of Health, George Taleo.

“I want to acknowledge the Vanuatu Malaria Unit under the Ministry of Health with the collaboration of community leaders to make this happen, and with all confidence to see other provinces to be declared Malaria free by 2030 as our corporate Target,” reiterated Dr. Jacob Cool from WHO Vanuatu Office.

DFAT as major funding partner to the Ministry of Health, applauded the efforts of all those involved. “May I take this opportunity to thank the women, children and people of Tanna who make it possible to eliminate malaria on Tanna. Australia is really proud of this achievement,” said Australian High Commission in Vanuatu, Jenny Da Rin.

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