With increasing interest in eliminating malaria from the Caribbean region, Haiti is one of the two countries on the island of Hispaniola with continued malaria transmission. While the Haitian population remains at risk for malaria, there are a limited number of cases annually, making conventional epidemiological measures such as case incidence and prevalence of potentially limited value for fine-scale resolution of transmission patterns and trends. In this context, genetic signatures may be useful for the identification and characterization of the Plasmodium falciparum parasite population in order to identify foci of transmission, detect outbreaks, and track parasite movement to potentially inform malaria control and elimination strategies.
The malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, was introduced into Hispaniola and other regions of the Americas through the slave trade spanning the 16th through the 19th centuries. During this period, more than 12 million Africans were brought across the Atlantic to the Caribbean and other regions of the Americas. Since malaria is holoendemic in West Africa, a substantial percentage of these individuals carried the parasite.
Chloroquine remains the first-line treatment for uncomplicated malaria in Haiti, and until recently, sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine was the second-line treatment. A few studies have reported the presence of molecular markers for resistance in Plasmodium falciparum parasites, and in vivo therapeutic efficacy studies (TESs) have been limited. Recognizing the history of antimalarial resistance around the globe and the challenges of implementing TESs in low-endemic areas, the Ministry of Health established a surveillance program to detect molecular markers of antimalarial resistance in Haiti.
As in most eliminating countries, malaria transmission is highly focal in Haiti. More granular information, including identifying asymptomatic infections, is needed to inform programmatic efforts, monitor intervention effectiveness, and identify remaining foci. Easy access group (EAG) surveys can supplement routine surveillance with more granular information on malaria in a programmatically tractable way. This study assessed how and which type of venue for EAG surveys can improve understanding malaria epidemiology in two regions with different transmission profiles.
The island of Hispaniola aims to eliminate malaria by 2025; however, there are limited data to describe epidemiologic risk factors for malaria in this setting. A prospective case–control study was conducted at four health facilities in southwest Haiti, aiming to describe factors influencing the risk of current and past malaria infection. Cases were defined as individuals attending facilities with current or recent fever and positive malaria rapid diagnostic test (RDT), whereas controls were those with current or recent fever and RDT negative.
Microscopy is the gold standard for malaria epidemiology, but laboratory and point-of-care (POC) tests detecting parasite antigen, DNA, and human antibodies against malaria have expanded this capacity. The island nation of Haiti is endemic for Plasmodium falciparum (Pf) malaria, though at a low national prevalence and heterogenous geospatial distribution. In 2015 and 2016, serosurveys were performed of children (ages 6–7 years) sampled in schools in Saut d’Eau commune (n = 1,230) and Grand Anse department (n = 1,664) of Haiti.
Accurate malaria diagnosis is foundational for control and elimination, and Haiti relies on histidine-rich protein 2 (HRP2)–based rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) identifying Plasmodium falciparum in clinical and community settings. In 2017, 1 household and 2 easy-access group surveys tested all participants (N = 32 506) by conventional and high-sensitivity RDTs. A subset of blood samples (n = 1154) was laboratory tested for HRP2 by bead-based immunoassay and for P. falciparum 18S rDNA by photo-induced electron transfer polymerase chain reaction.
Haiti and the Dominican Republic (DR) are targeting malaria elimination by 2022. The private health sector has been relatively unengaged in these efforts, even though most primary health care in Haiti is provided by non-state actors, and many people use traditional medicine. Data on private health sector participation in malaria elimination efforts are lacking, as are data on care-seeking behaviour of patients in the private health sector. This study sought to describe the role of private health sector providers, care-seeking behaviour of individuals at high risk of malaria, and possible means of engaging the private health sector in Hispaniola’s malaria elimination efforts.
The Plasmodium falciparum parasite is the only human malaria that produces the histidine-rich protein 2 and 3 (HRP2/3) antigens. Currently, HRP2/3 are widely used in malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs), but several global reports have recently emerged showing genetic deletion of one or both of these antigens in parasites. Deletion of these antigens could pose a major concern for P. falciparum diagnosis in Haiti which currently uses RDTs based solely on the detection of the HRP2/3 antigens.