WHO certifies Algeria, Argentina malaria-free

Mosquito used to illustrate the story. Photo: WebMD
Mosquito used to illustrate the story. Photo: WebMD

The World Health Organisation has declared Algeria and Argentina as malaria-free.

A statement released by the agency on Wednesday said both countries were presented the malaria-free certification having successfully ”interrupted the indigenous transmission of the disease”.

The certificates were presented by the WHO Director-General, Ghebreyesus Tedros, to representatives from Algeria and Argentina on the sidelines of the 72nd session of the World Health Assembly.

The certification makes Algeria the second country in the WHO African region to achieve this feat.

The first country from the region was Mauritius. Mauritius was certified malaria-free in 1973.

Also, Argentina is the second country in the Americas to be certified in 45 years, after Paraguay in June 2018.

A malaria-free certification is granted when a country proves that it has interrupted indigenous transmission of the disease for at least three consecutive years.

Algeria and Argentina reported their last cases of indigenous malaria in 2013 and 2010, respectively.

Globally, a total of 38 countries and territories have now been declared malaria-free.

Malaria remains one of the world’s killer diseases, with an estimated 219 million cases and over 400,000 malaria-related deaths as of 2017.

Approximately 60 per cent of fatalities are listed as children.

The WHO Director-General said Algeria and Argentina had eliminated malaria ”thanks to the unwavering commitment and perseverance of the people and leaders of both countries.”

He said, “their success serves as a model for other countries working to end this disease once and for all.”

WHO said Algeria’s subsequent success in beating the disease could be attributed primarily to a well-trained health workforce, the provision of malaria diagnosis and treatment through universal health care, and rapid response to disease outbreaks.

“Together, these factors enabled the country to reach – and maintain – zero malaria cases,” it said.

WHO also spoke on Argentina’s successes.

“Between 2000 and 2011, Argentina worked closely with the Government of Bolivia to spray more than 22 000 homes in border areas and conduct widespread malaria testing,” it said.

Meanwhile, Director of the Pan American Health Organisation, WHO regional office for the Americas, Carissa F. Etienne, said Argentina reported the last indigenous case in 2010.

She said the country had demonstrated commendable commitment in attaining the stride.

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