First American country in decades: Paraguay declared malaria-free
Malaria is a dangerous infectious disease that kills hundreds of thousands of people worldwide every year. The dangerous disease was eradicated in Paraguay. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the South American country free from malaria.
Progress in the fight against malaria
"We have made great strides in the fight against malaria in recent years," said the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, last year in a press release. At the time, however, the experts also pointed out that the fight against the infectious disease in various countries and regions of the world has stalled and that a large return of malaria is therefore possible in the future. However, this does not seem to be the case in Paraguay. The South American country has now been declared malaria-free.
Paraguay has eliminated malaria
The World Health Organization (WHO) has certified Paraguay that it has eliminated malaria. It is the first country in America to have been given this status since 1973, a statement said.
"It is a great pleasure for me to confirm today that Paraguay is officially malaria-free," said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General.
“Success stories like Paraguay show what is possible. If malaria can be eliminated in one country, it can be eliminated in all countries. ”
In 2016, WHO identified Paraguay as one of 21 countries with the potential to eliminate malaria by 2020.
With the “E 2020 Initiative”, WHO supports these countries in expanding their activities to prevent malaria. Other E 2020 countries in America are Belize, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico and Suriname.
"This is a strong reminder for the region of what can be achieved if countries focus on an important goal and remain vigilant after achieving that goal," said Dr. Carissa F Etienne, Director of the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), WHO Regional Office for the Americas.
"We hope that other countries will soon follow Paraguay in eliminating malaria."
Prevent recurrence of the disease
From 1950 to 2011, Paraguay systematically developed strategies and programs to combat and eradicate malaria - a major public health challenge in a country that reported more than 80,000 cases of the disease in the 1940s.
As a result, Paraguay registered its last case of Plasmodium falciparum malaria in 1995 and P. Vivax malaria in 2011.
In April 2018, after taking further measures to prevent the disease from recurring, the Malaria Elimination Certification Panel concluded that Paraguay had interrupted the transmission of native malaria for the required three years and was able to restore the transmission to prevent.
The panel recommended that the WHO Director-General certify the country as malaria-free. This has now happened.
Protect against mosquito bites
Between 1960 and 1973, seven countries and territories from America were recognized as malaria-free. In the North, Central and South America region, cases of malaria decreased by 62 percent and deaths from malaria by 61 percent between 2000 and 2015.
However, the increase in cases of malaria in several countries in 2016 and 2017 shows that there are still major challenges in improving the diagnosis, treatment and investigation of cases of malaria, especially in remote areas.
A malaria vaccine is not yet available. In affected countries, it is important to protect yourself as well as possible from mosquito bites.
It should be noted that the malaria-transmitting Anopheles mosquito bites almost without exception at dawn or after sunset. (ad)