El Salvador is first Central American country to eliminate malaria
El Salvador became the first Central American country and 38th country globally to eliminate malaria, the Pan American Health Organization announced.
“Malaria has afflicted humankind for millennia, but countries like El Salvador are living proof and inspiration for all countries that we can dare to dream of a malaria-free future,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, MSc, said in a press release.
WHO considers a country free of malaria when it has “proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the chain of indigenous transmission has been interrupted” for 3 consecutive years. El Salvador is the third country in the Americas to achieve malaria-free status after Paraguay in 2018 and Argentina in 2019.
Malaria cases in El Salvador dropped from more than 9,000 to just 26 between 1990 and 2010, according to PAHO. Since 2017, the country has had zero indigenous cases of the disease.
The country has held fast to its malaria response despite not recording a death from the disease since 1984, PAHO said. It has maintained its budgeting for malaria throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, relying on 276 vector control personnel, 247 laboratories and more than 3,000 community health workers throughout 2020.
El Salvador is also a member of WHO’s “E-2020” initiative, a collaboration of 21 countries that were identified in 2016 as having the potential to eliminate the disease.
“El Salvador has worked hard to wipe out malaria and the human suffering that it generates,” PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne, MD, said in the release. “Over the years, El Salvador has dedicated both the human and financial resources needed to succeed. This certification today is a lifesaving achievement for the Americas.”