China certified Malaria-free

China was certified as malaria-free by World Health Organisation on June 30, 2021 after a 70-year effort of eradicating this mosquito-borne disease.

Highlights

China reported 30 million cases of Malaria annually in 1940s but no indigenous case was reported for four consecutive years.

Who can get Malaria-free status?

Nations that have achieved at least three consecutive years of zero indigenous cases of Malaria can apply for WHO certification of malaria-free status. To get this status, nations must present rigorous evidences and demonstrate capacity to prevent transmission re-emerging.

Status of China

China has become 40th territory to get malaria-free status by WHO. Four other countries that gained the status recently were El Salvador in 2021, Algeria & Argentina in 2019, and Paraguay & Uzbekistan in 2018. China has also become the first country in WHO’s Western Pacific region to be awarded malaria-free certification in about three decades. Others countries with this certified status are Australia (1981), Singapore (1982) and Brunei (1987).

WHO’s World Malaria Report 2020

According to WHO report, global progress against the disease was plateauing specially in African countries that are bearing the brunt of cases and deaths. As per the report, 736,000 lives were claimed in 2000. Disease had claimed an estimated 411,000 lives in 2018 while 409,000 in 2019. In 2019, global malaria cases were estimated at 229 million.  It highlights, about 90% of malaria deaths occur in Africa and majority of them are young children.

China’s battle against Malaria

China started working out where malaria was spreading and began to combat in 1950s using preventative anti-malarial medicines. It reduced mosquito breeding grounds and sprayed insecticide in homes. In 1967, China had launched a scientific programme to look after new malaria treatments, which led to the discovery of artemisinin which are the most effective antimalarial drugs.

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