There is some great public health news coming out of Paraguay–Country officials report they received news that the effort made for several years is paying off–The World Health Organization (WHO) has certified Paraguay as having eliminated malaria.

Image/Robert Herriman
Image/Robert Herriman

In 2016, WHO identified Paraguay as one of 21 countries with the potential to eliminate malaria by 2020. Through the “E-2020 initiative,” WHO is supporting these countries as they scale up activities to become malaria-free. Other E-2020 countries in the Americas include Belize, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico and Suriname.

There has been no indigenous malaria cases reported in Paraguay since 2012. The National Malaria Control Program, under the National Malaria Eradication Service (SENEPA), is responsible for the implementation of the “Strategic Plan for the Prevention of the Reintroduction of Malaria. Malaria in Paraguay 2015 – 2019 “.

WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “It gives me great pleasure today to certify that Paraguay is officially free of malaria.

“Success stories like Paraguay’s show what is possible. If malaria can be eliminated in one country, it can be eliminated in all countries.”

The elimination of Malaria was not an easy task, but a very big effort. It is worth noting that SENEPA has done a long-term job to achieve Malaria reduction to “zero” cases. This great national achievement allows Paraguay today to be in the privileged position of the first South American country to eradicate the disease.

Malaria: A general introduction and Plasmodium vivax

Malaria is a lethal disease caused by parasites of the genus Plasmodium, which are transmitted to humans by the bite of infected mosquitoes.

The Senepa was founded as a result of the malaria outbreak that Paraguay suffered in 1957, when 90,000 people in 90% of the country’s territory contracted the disease.

Malaria is still present in countries concentrated in Africa, Asia and America, and it is estimated that in 2016 there were 445,000 deaths worldwide and 216 million cases, according to WHO data.

Plasmodium falciparum, cerebral malaria and blackwater fever