Argentina and Algeria certified malaria-free by the WHO

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Argentina and Algeria have officially been certified as free of malaria by the WHO, meaning the countries have demonstrated the interruption of indigenous disease transmission for at least 3 consecutive years.

Globally, 38 countries and territories have been declared malaria-free; however, Algeria is the second country in the WHO African Region to be officially recognized as malaria-free after Mauritius, which was certified in 1973. Algeria reported its last indigenous case of malaria in 2013.

The malaria parasite was first discovered in Algeria in 1880 and the disease becoming a major health concern in the 1960s, with some 80,000 cases reported each year. Matshidiso Moeti, Director for Africa, commented on the certification: “Algeria has now demonstrated to the rest of the African continent that it is possible to defeat malaria through country leadership, bold measures, sound investments and sound science. Other African countries can learn from this experience.”

Argentina is the second country in the WHO Region of the Americas to be certified, after Paraguay, which was certified in June 2018. Argentina reported its last indigenous case of malaria in 2010.

The mission to eradicate malaria began in Argentina in the 1970s and included training health workers in indoor spraying, diagnosing the disease by microscopy and ensuring an effective response to reported cases in the community. In addition, Argentina collaborated with neighboring countries, for example, spraying homes in the border areas of Bolivia.

Carissa Etienne, Director of the Pan American Health Organization, WHO Regional Office for the Americas, noted: “Argentina notified the last indigenous case in 2010 and demonstrated the commitment, capacity within its health, laboratory and surveillance systems as well as the funding needed to prevent the reintroduction of malaria in its country. I am convinced that Argentina will serve as an example and inspiration to other countries in the Region of the Americas to achieve the elimination of the disease in the coming years.”

Over the past decade improvements in surveillance have allowed both countries to identify and treat malaria, notably, both countries provide free diagnosis and treatment of malaria within their borders, thus reducing financial barriers to healthcare that may be felt elsewhere.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, concluded: “Algeria and Argentina have eliminated malaria thanks to the unwavering commitment and perseverance of the people and leaders of both countries. Their success serves as a model for other countries struggling to end this disease once and for all.”

The certificates will be presented by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to the representatives of Algeria and Argentina on the side of the 72nd World Health Assembly (20–28 May, Geneva, Switzerland).

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Source: WHO press release

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