Community Banks on End of Malaria

Maria de los Santos has had enough of malaria.

De los Santos, who operates a tiny community bank in San Juan de la Maguana, Dominican Republic, experienced fever, chills, and a less common symptom, severe itching, during a bout with the mosquito-borne illness. She kept the bank open and continued to look after her family despite being sick with a potentially fatal tropical disease.

“I continued with my normal life,” she said with a nonchalance that belied her toughness.

  • Maria de los Santos with son and daughter.

    Dominican Maria de los Santos, pictured with her children, remembers a tough bout with malaria in the past.

The Carter Center is working to ensure people in the Dominican Republic and Haiti will not have to push through such infections much longer. The Center works with both countries to eliminate malaria and lymphatic filariasis transmission across Hispaniola, the island where Haiti and the Dominican Republic are located Hispaniola is the only island in the Caribbean where both diseases still exist.

Major progress has been made In 2022, a total of 14,090 cases of malaria — five fatal — were reported in Haiti and just 336 in the Dominican Republic. That marks an 83% decrease in cases overall since 2010.

The countries must cooperate because the mosquitoes that carry the diseases are everywhere, said Dr Luccène Desir, the Carter Center’s senior country representative for Hispaniola.

“Mosquitoes don’t need a passport to cross the border,” Desir said. “What we do in one country, we must do in the other to eliminate transmission of the diseases across the entire island.”

Sitting behind the barred window of her little bank, de los Santos said she is looking forward to the end of malaria on Hispaniola, a place she loves and would never consider leaving.

“I am happy that Haitian and Dominican doctors have joined together to eliminate malaria,” she said, “because then neither my family nor I nor my neighbors will ever be sick with it again.”


Video | Achieving a Dream

Story | Hispaniola Makes Strides Against Disfiguring Disease

The Carter Center's Hispaniola Initiative


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