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A Project for Haiti: The Eradication of Two Diseases

This letter to the editor of the New York Times by Carter Center Vice President for Health Programs Dr. Donald R. Hopkins was published March 30, 2010, in response to the March 28, 2010 editorial "Making Haiti Whole."

Re: "Making Haiti Whole":

Two projects that the donors conference on Haiti should consider this week are the binational plan that Haiti and the Dominican Republic announced last October to eliminate malaria by 2020, and the plan that Haiti announced simultaneously to eliminate lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis) by 2020 (the Dominican Republic expects to eliminate lymphatic filariasis this year).

Both diseases are transmitted by mosquitoes, are associated with poverty and can be treated effectively with inexpensive drugs and bed nets to prevent bites by mosquitoes.
Hispaniola, the island Haiti and the Dominican Republic share, is the only part of the Caribbean where malaria is still found and also accounts for more than 90 percent of all lymphatic filariasis cases in the Western Hemisphere. Elimination of these diseases could allow resources to be redirected.

The projected cost of the binational malaria plan is $194 million (two-thirds for Haiti) over the next 10 years; eliminating lymphatic filariasis from Haiti by 2020 would cost about $49.4 million. Eliminating these two diseases would save lives, boost employment and benefit tourism, manufacturing and agricultural productivity. In 2004, a single outbreak of malaria cost the Dominican Republic an estimated $200 million in lost tourism revenues.

Donald R. Hopkins

Atlanta, March 29, 2010

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