Algeria and Argentina certified malaria-free, further shrinking malaria map

Last month, Algeria and Argentina were certified malaria-free by the WHO, raising the number of countries that have received this certification to 38 worldwide. A momentous achievement for both countries, Argentina is the second country in the Americas to have reached this goal in recent years, with Paraguay having eliminated malaria in 2018. Algeria is the first country to eliminate malaria in the African continent in 45 years. Malaria elimination in both countries was the result of providing universal access to free diagnosis and treatment, effective cross-border collaboration, and strong surveillance systems that allowed for the last malaria cases to be detected and cleared.

Algeria and Argentina join the ranks of a growing number of countries eliminating malaria, including the Maldives in 2015, Sri Lanka in 2016, and Uzbekistan and Paraguay in 2018. In addition, China and El Salvador reported zero indigenous cases for the first time in 2017, and several higher burden countries including Ethiopia, India, Pakistan and Rwanda have recorded substantial declines in cases. These recent successes show the steady progress the world has made in shrinking the malaria map.

“We congratulate Algeria and Argentina on their momentous achievements. The World Health Organization’s Global Technical Strategy for Malaria called for the elimination of the disease by 2020 in at least 10 countries that were endemic in 2015. As such, Algeria and Argentina join a select group of countries at the vanguard of the global eradication agenda. Not only are they demonstrating leadership in healthcare provision for their own populations, they are also helping lead the way within their respective regions as the malaria community steps up its efforts to rid the world of this disease by the middle of this century,” said Chris White, MEI co-director.

Certification of malaria elimination by the WHO is the official recognition of a country’s malaria-free status. WHO grants this certification when a country has proven that local transmission of all human malaria parasites has been interrupted nationwide for at least the past 3 consecutive years, and that a fully functional surveillance and response system that can prevent re-establishment of indigenous transmission is in place.

The MEI believes that global malaria eradication is possible. New tools, a strong product development pipeline, lessons learned from other disease eradication efforts, and decades of research are informing progress. Simultaneous action to continue to accelerate progress in lower burden countries, while addressing recent resurgences in some high burden countries, will help put us on the path towards our ultimate goal – achieving a world free from malaria.