Geneva: After 70 years of efforts to eradicate mosquito-borne diseases, the World Health Organization has declared China malaria-free.
The country reported 30 million cases of infectious disease each year in the 1940s, but now four consecutive years have passed without an indigenous case.
“We congratulate the people of China on getting rid of malaria,” said Tedros Adhanom Gabrias, director general of the WHO.
“Their success was hard work and came after decades of targeted and sustained action. With this announcement, China has joined a growing number of countries that are showing the world that a malaria-free future is a viable goal.” Is.”
Countries that have received zero indigenous cases for at least three consecutive years can apply for WHO certification of their malaria-free status. They will have to present hard evidence – and demonstrate their ability to prevent re-emergence of transmission.
China has become the 40th Geneva-based WHO-certified malaria-free region.
The last countries to receive the status were El Salvador (2021), Algeria and Argentina (2019), and Paraguay and Uzbekistan (2018).
There is a separate list of 61 countries where malaria never existed, or disappeared without specific measures.
– Plateau of global development
China is the first WHO country in the western Pacific to be malaria-free in more than three decades.
Australia (1981), Singapore (1982) and Brunei (1987) are only certified.
The WHO World Malaria Report 2020 states that progress is being made globally against the disease, especially in African countries that are suffering from cases and deaths.
The annual report, published in November, says that after falling steadily from 736,000 in 2000, the disease killed 411,000 in 2018 and 409,000 in 2019.
Meanwhile, the global number of malaria cases in 2019 was estimated at 229 million – a figure that has remained at the same level for the past four years.
About 90% of malaria deaths occur in Africa, with the majority – over 265,000 – in young children.
– China’s fight against malaria
The WHO said that in the 1950s, Beijing began working on malaria where it was spreading and began to fight it with anti-malarial drugs.
The country has reduced mosquito breeding grounds and stepped up pesticide spraying on homes.
In 1967, China launched a scientific program to find new treatments for malaria, which led to the discovery of artemisinin in the 1970s – the basic combination of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT), the most effective. There are anti-malarial drugs.
In the 1980s, China was one of the first countries to conduct large-scale testing of insecticide-treated nets to prevent malaria. By 1988, more than 2.4 million had been distributed nationwide.
By the end of 1990, the number of malaria cases in China had dropped to 117,000, and the death toll had dropped by 95%.
“China’s ability to think outside the box has served the country well in its response to malaria, and has had a significant impact globally,” said Pedro Alonso, director of the WHO’s global malaria program.
– Southern border surveillance
Since 2003, China has stepped up efforts across the board, bringing the number of annual cases to nearly 5,000 in 10 years.
After four consecutive years of zero domestic affairs, China applied for WHO certification in 2020.
Experts traveled to China in May this year to confirm its malaria-free status and plans to prevent the disease from returning.
The risk of imported cases is not only among people returning from sub-Saharan Africa and other malaria-affected areas, but also in the southern Greek province of Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.
The WHO says China has stepped up its malaria surveillance in high-risk areas to prevent the disease from recurring.