China was certified as malaria-free by WHO

China was certified as malaria-free by WHO

China was certified as malaria-free on Wednesday by the world Health Organization, following a 70-year effort to eradicate the mosquito-borne disease.

The country reported 30 million cases of the communicable disease annually within the 1940s but has now gone four consecutive years without an indigenous case.

"We congratulate the people of China on ridding the country of malaria," said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

"Their success was hard-earned and came only after decades of targeted and sustained action. With this announcement, China joins the growing number of nations that are showing the globe that a malaria-free future may be a viable goal."

Countries that have achieved a minimum of three consecutive years of zero indigenous cases can apply for WHO certification of their malaria-free status. they need to present rigorous evidence -- and demonstrate the capacity to stop transmission re-emerging.

Beijing, which is within the middle of a propaganda push before celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the founding of its ruling Communist Party in the week , hailed the WHO's certification as a "great achievement for China's human rights cause".

"The CCP and therefore the Chinese government have always prioritised safeguarding people's health, safety and prosperity," said foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin at a routine briefing in Beijing.

"Eliminating malaria may be a great contribution by China to human health and global human rights progress."

China becomes the 40th territory certified malaria-free by the Geneva-based WHO.

The last countries to realize 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.

China is additionally the primary country within the WHO's Western Pacific region to be awarded a malaria-free certification in additional than three decades.

The WHO's World Malaria Report 2020 warned global progress against the disease was plateauing, particularly in African countries bearing the brunt of cases and deaths.

In 2019 the worldwide tally of malaria cases was estimated at 229 million -- a figure that has been at an equivalent level for the past four years.

In the 1950s, Beijing started understanding where malaria was spreading and commenced to combat it with preventative anti-malarial medicines, said the WHO.

The country reduced mosquito breeding grounds and stepped up spraying insecticide in homes.

While checking out new malaria treatments within the 1970s, China discovered artemisinin -- the core compound of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs), which are the foremost effective antimalarial drugs available.

In the 1980s, China was among the primary countries to extensively test the utilization of insecticide-treated nets to stop malaria. By 1988, quite 2.4 million had been distributed nationwide.

By the top of 1990, the amount of malaria cases in China had plummeted to 117,000, and deaths had been cut by 95 percent.

"China's ability to think outside the box served the country well in its own response to malaria, and also had a big ripple effect globally," said Pedro Alonso, director of the WHO's global malaria programme.

From 2003, China stepped up efforts across the board that brought annual case numbers right down to around 5,000 within 10 years.

After four consecutive years of zero indigenous cases, China applied for WHO certification in 2020.

Experts travelled to China in May this year to verify its malaria-free status and its plans to stop the disease from returning .

The risk of imported cases remains a priority , not only among people coming back from Sub-Saharan Africa and other malaria-hit regions, but also within the southern Yunnan , which borders Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, all battling the disease.

China has stepped up its malaria surveillance during a t-risk zones in a bid to stop the disease re-emerging, said the WHO.

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