Algeria and Argentina have become the latest countries to be recognised as malaria-free by the World Health Organisation (WHO) after recording no new cases for more than three years.
The two countries join 36 others around the world which have eliminated the mosquito-borne disease – which still kills some 435,000 people a year – in the last six decades.
Millions of pounds has been invested in the fight against malaria, but the global battle against the disease is stalling – in 2017, the number of reported cases rose by 3 million to a total of 219 million globally.
“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,” he added.
Malaria was a huge problem in Algeria in the 1960s, when there were some 80,000 cases a year. By 2000 this figure dropped to almost 28,000.
The country has now seen no new infections since 2013 and is the first nation in Africa to be declared malaria-free in more than 40 years – the only other African country to have eliminated the disease is Mauritius which achieved the goal in 1973.
“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,” she said.
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