Seattle, May 22 2019 - Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) certified Algeria and Argentina malaria-free marking a crucial step towards improving the countries’ public health and efforts to achieve the global Sustainable Development Goals. The new certifications build momentum for other low malaria burden countries to meet their commitments to end the disease, especially at a time when cases are rising in the highest burden countries.
“Algeria and Argentina deserve congratulations and global recognition for their persistent commitment, leadership and dedication of resources to become malaria-free,” said Martin Edlund, CEO of Malaria No More. “Their success demonstrates that the goals of malaria elimination and health system strengthening are mutually reinforcing. As countries transition from controlling malaria to eliminating it, they increasingly rely on infrastructure – including surveillance, better data, and active case detection – that only exists in the context of strong overall health systems.”
Algeria is now the 3rd African country to be certified malaria-free, while Argentina is the 2nd country in the Americas, after Paraguay last year, to be certified in the last 46 years, and the 9th country to be certified in the region since 1962. WHO grants malaria-free certification after a country proves interruption of indigenous malaria case transmission for at least three consecutive years, which can be a challenge in countries surrounded by other malaria-affected countries.
According to the WHO, the number of countries with less than 100 indigenous cases of malaria – a strong indicator that elimination is within reach – increased from 15 countries in 2010 to 26 countries in 2017. The WHO expects that at least 10 countries with endemic malaria in 2015 will achieve at least one year of zero malaria cases by 2020.
Key factors that led to Algeria’s and Argentina’s success included: universal health coverage ensuring free malaria diagnosis and treatment for all; working with neighboring countries to reduce transmission in border areas and rapidly responding to outbreaks across borders; and improving disease surveillance to help rapidly identify and treat every last malaria case.
“As more countries commit to become malaria free, Algeria’s and Argentina’s success offer inspiration and playbooks for other countries to follow,” said Edlund. “Today, more than half of all malaria-affected countries have fewer than 10,000 cases of malaria, bringing them within striking distance of elimination. Algeria and Argentina provide further proof that with the right commitment, innovation and resources, we can achieve the goal of a malaria-free world.”
In addition to strengthening health systems, countries achieving malaria-free certification benefit from freeing up of resources to address other health and development priorities, and greater economic gains. Without risk of malaria, a country’s citizens are healthier, increasing children’s ability to go to school and reach their full potential and parents’ productivity, ultimately impacting the country’s economy. Countries without malaria also open the door to new investments by private sector companies no longer needing to consider the impact of malaria on employee productivity.
About Malaria No More
Malaria No More envisions a world where no one dies from a mosquito bite. More than a decade into our mission, our work has contributed to historic progress toward this goal. Now, we’re mobilizing the political commitment, funding, and innovation required to achieve what would be one of the greatest humanitarian accomplishments – ending malaria within our generation. For more information, visit www.malarianomore.org