Malaria has been eradicated from the countries of Algeria and Argentina, said the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday.
38 countries have now been deemed malaria-free, a major milestone for WHO and other agencies who have been fighting to eliminate the disease since it made a global comeback. Though the disease is preventable and treatable, it kills roughly 400,000 around the world each year. In 2017, health officials estimate there were 219 million malaria cases globally, most fatal cases occurring in Africa.
Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa said that Algeria’s declaration of malaria-free is especially important.
“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,” said Dr. Moeti.
Algeria and Argentina, as well as the other countries that have been declared malaria free, have proven to health officials that there have been no in-country transmissions of the disease for three consecutive years. Algeria is the second country in Africa to be declared malaria free; Mauritius was the first in 1973.
In April, the WHO launched a malaria vaccination product with the goal to vaccinate 360,000 children each year. Though the vaccination only offers partial protection from the disease, it has made an impact in clinical studies and could help save lives and prevent illness.
Algeria saw success in managing malaria by training health care workers in identifying and treating the disease quickly before it spreads. Universal healthcare and quick response to malaria outbreaks were also instrumental in tamping down the spread of the disease.
Argentina is the second country in the Americas in 45 years to be declared malaria-free, after Paraguay was declared malaria-free in 2018. Health care workers sprayed homes with mosquito poison and tracked outbreaks effectively to contain the spread of the disease.
WHO’s Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus applauded the efforts of both countries in tackling the disease in a press release by the organization “Algeria and Argentina have eliminated malaria thanks to the unwavering commitment and perseverance of the people and leaders of both countries,” said Dr. Ghebreyesus. “Their success serves as a model for other countries working to end this disease once and for all.”
“Algeria and Argentina have eliminated malaria thanks to the unwavering commitment and perseverance of the people and leaders of both countries,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in the organization’s press release.”Their success serves as a model for other countries working to end this disease once and for all,” he added.Get CNN Health’s weekly newsletter
Sign up here to get The Results Are In with Dr. Sanjay Gupta every Tuesday from the CNN Health team.Argentina is the second country in 45 years to be recognized as malaria-free in the Americas, following Paraguay, which reached this status last year.Eliminating malaria was made a goal in Argentina in the 1970s. The country tackled this by training health workers to spray homes with insecticides, diagnosing the disease through microscopy, and responding to cases in the community effectively.