Here’s a lesson for the next textbook on malaria: If at first you succeed, don’t rest on your laurels or become complacent. Put your head down and keep working.
Public health officials in the Republic of Uzbekistan learned that lesson the hard way after they emerged victorious more than half a century ago in their battle against malaria. The Central Asian nation of 32 million people, which gained independence from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1991, first eliminated the disease in 1961. But that success didn’t last.
After enduring a decades-long return of the malaria parasite, Uzbekistan eliminated malaria for a second time, in 2010. Now, the country has gone one step further, securing the official WHO certification of malaria-free status.
“In eliminating malaria, Uzbekistan has taken a big step forward in protecting the health of its people,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who recently signed a certificate attesting that the country had eliminated indigenous transmission of the disease from within its borders. “This is a spectacular achievement.”
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