Algeria and Argentina attain malaria-free status, WHO says
Algeria and Argentina have been certified malaria-free, WHO announced today.
The certification made Algeria just the second country in the WHO African Region to achieve malaria-free status after Mauritius in 1973. Argentina became the second country in the WHO Region of the Americas certified in the last 45 years, following Paraguay in June 2018.
“Algeria and Argentina have eliminated malaria thanks to the unwavering commitment and perseverance of the people and leaders of both countries,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, MSc, said in a news release. “Their success serves as a model for other countries working to end this disease once and for all.”
WHO’s World Malaria Report documented zero locally transmitted malaria cases in Argentina as of 2010 and in Algeria as of 2013. Countries must go at least 3 years without indigenous transmission of malaria to be declared free of the disease.
For Algeria, this marked the contemporary end to a disease that was the country’s primary health concern in the 1960s, according to the release. At the time, 80,000 cases were reported annually.
“Algeria is where the malaria parasite was first discovered in humans almost a century and a half ago, and that was a significant milestone in responding to the disease,” Matshidiso Moeti, MBBS, MSc, WHO regional director for Africa, said in the release. “Now Algeria has shown the rest of Africa that malaria can be beaten through country leadership, bold action, sound investment and science. The rest of the continent can learn from this experience.”
WHO attributed the country’s success at combating the disease to a trained health workforce, the diagnosis and treatment of malaria made accessible through universal health care and a rapid response to outbreaks.
It said Argentina’s path to elimination, which began in the 1970s, hinged on the training of health workers to spray homes with insecticides, diagnosis of the disease through microscopy and effective response to cases within its borders. Critical between 2000 and 2011 was cross-border collaboration, wherein Argentina partnered with the Bolivian government to spray more than 22,000 homes in border areas and test widely for malaria, according to WHO.
“Argentina reported the last indigenous case in 2010 and has demonstrated the commitment, the capacity within its health, laboratory and surveillance systems, and the necessary financing to prevent the re-establishment of malaria within the country,” Carissa F. Etienne, MBBS, MSc, director of the Pan American Health Organization, said in the release. – by Joe Gramigna
WHO. World malaria report 2018. https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/275867/9789241565653-eng.pdf. Accessed May 22, 2019.
Disclosures: Etienne, Moeti and Tedros report no relevant financial disclosures.