China Has Officially Been Declared Free Of Malaria
The World Health Organization has declared China malaria-free after 70 years.
The country hasn’t seen a case of the disease in four years, becoming the 40th country to be declared malaria-free.
The announcement was made today, June 30, following a team of experts visiting the country in May to verify China still had no active malaria cases.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement:
We congratulate the people of China on ridding the country of malaria. Their success was hard-earned and came only after decades of targeted and sustained action. With this announcement, China joins the growing number of countries that are showing the world that a malaria-free future is a viable goal.
Dr Takeshi Kasai, Regional Director at the WHO Western Pacific Regional Office, also expressed his congratulations.
He said, ‘China’s tireless effort to achieve this important milestone demonstrates how strong political commitment and strengthening national health systems can result in eliminating a disease that once was a major public health problem. China’s achievement takes us one step closer towards the vision of a malaria-free Western Pacific Region.’
The WHO only gives this certification ‘when a country has demonstrated – with rigorous, credible evidence – that the chain of indigenous malaria transmission by Anopheles mosquitoes has been interrupted nationwide for at least the past three consecutive years’, in addition to showing the ability to continue to stay malaria-free.
At one point, China reported millions of malaria cases each year, so this new declaration will come as a sigh of relief for the country’s officials.
To tackle the spread, China gave out medicine to high-risk areas decades ago, DW reports, and it’s evident their hard work has paid off.
Since then, mosquito repellents and nets have become more widely available. China was one of the first countries to test the use of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) for the prevention of the disease.
The decline in cases has been an uphill battle for the country, though: in the 1940s, there were 30 million cases per year, which eventually went down to 117,000 annual cases by the 1990s.
By 2003, this had further declined to just 5,000 cases a year.
China now joins the likes of Algeria, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uzbekistan in becoming malaria-free. El Salvador was also declared malaria-free this year.
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