According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Algeria and Argentina have been certified Malaria free. The WHO confirmed in a statement released that Algeria is the second country – after Mauritius in 1973 – in its African Region to be officially recognized and certified as malaria-free.
“Algeria and Argentina have eliminated malaria thanks to the unwavering commitment and perseverance of the people and leaders of both countries,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Their success serves as a model for other countries working to end this disease once and for all.”
Dr. Tedros also tweeted his excitement:
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) May 22, 2019
Malaria, first discovered in humans in Algeria by French physician Dr Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran in 1880, remains one of the world’s leading killers, with an estimated 219 million cases and over 400,000 malaria-related deaths in 2017. Approximately 60% of fatalities are among children aged under 5 years.
This malaria-free certification is issued to a country that is able to;
- prove, beyond reasonable doubt, it has interrupted indigenous transmission of malaria for at least 3 consecutive years
- has an operational national surveillance system capable of rapidly detecting and responding to any malaria cases
- has an effective programme to prevent re-establishment of the disease
Algeria has been able to fight back malaria leveraging a well-trained health workforce, the provision of malaria diagnosis and treatment through universal health care, and a rapid response to disease outbreaks.
“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,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “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.”
The fight against malaria in Africa got a boost recently as Malawi is now the first of three (3) African countries to pilot the world’s first malaria vaccine called RTS,S. The other African countries are Ghana and Kenya who are expected to launch the vaccine shortly as well.