Researchers from The Global Health Group’s Malaria Elimination Initiative published a study in Malaria Journal that tackles a challenging topic: the economic benefits of malaria elimination. Titled “The Economic Benefits of Malaria Elimination: Do They Include Increases in Tourism?”, the paper assesses trends for tourist arrivals and their relationship to malaria in Mauritius and Dominican Republic – two countries that have strong tourism industries yet very different malaria situations. Mauritius successfully eliminated malaria in 1998 and now focuses on preventing reintroduction of malaria, whereas Dominican Republic is working towards its goal of eliminating malaria.
Researchers compiled national data on tourist airport arrivals and malaria incidence to investigate whether increases in tourism were more closely linked to changing malaria burdens or increases in global travel in general. Although the association between tourist arrivals and malaria cases was not significant for either country, researchers believe that assessing this relationship at the national level fails to capture the probable benefits accrued by subnational areas that may have more highly concentrated tourism. “As countries move forward with elimination and as data systems improve...[for] location-specific data,” they assert, “...[we could] give a clearer picture of the broader implications on the macroeconomic gains/losses due to malaria elimination.”