By Teddy Cambosa
Ahead of the observance of the World Malaria Day, marked annually on 25 April, the World Health Organization has launched a new initiative to halt transmission of the disease in 25 more countries by 2025.
Of the 87 countries with malaria, 46 reported fewer than 10,000 cases of the disease in 2019 compared to 26 countries in 2000. By the end of 2020, 24 countries had reported interrupting malaria transmission for 3 years or more. Of these, 11 were certified malaria-free by WHO.
“Many of the countries we are recognizing today carried, at one time, a very high burden of malaria. Their successes were hard-won and came only after decades of concerted action” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Together, they have shown the world that malaria elimination is a viable goal for all countries.”
Through the E-2020 initiative, launched in 2017, WHO has supported 21 countries in their efforts to get to zero malaria cases within the 2020 timeline. A new WHO report summarizes progress and lessons learned in these countries over the last 3 years.
According to the report, 8 of the E-2020 member countries reported zero indigenous cases of human malaria by the end of 2020: Algeria, Belize, Cabo Verde, China, El Salvador, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Malaysia and Paraguay. In Malaysia, the P. knowlesi parasite, normally found in monkeys, infected approximately 2600 people in 2020.
“Success is driven, first and foremost, by political commitment within a malaria-endemic country to end the disease,” said Dr Pedro Alonso, Director of the WHO Global Malaria Programme. “This commitment is translated into domestic funding that is often sustained over many decades, even after a country is malaria-free,” he added.
Teddy Cambosa is a graduating BS Biology student and a former campus journalist at Batangas State University.
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