Malaria kills over 400,000 people every year, making it the deadliest mosquito-borne infection in the world. Haiti and the Dominican Republic are the only two Caribbean countries where malaria is present – and they are committed to eliminating it by 2020.
However, we know little about how local people perceive malaria. Would they accept the interventions the government has planned to eliminate the disease? To find out, we performed interviews with health workers, traditional healers, priests, teachers, public officials, and community members.
We learned that many people haven’t heard of malaria or don’t perceive it as dangerous or as a disease at all. Most participants thought that increasing the access to mosquito nets would be the most accepted strategy, as many locals don’t trust pills and refuse to be tested. Our results showed us that increasing malaria awareness is very important. It’s also essential to include the collaboration of traditional healers as many sick people seek their help instead of going to a health clinic for treatment.