Argentina Now Malaria-Free
The South American country of Argentina has been officially recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as malaria-free.
WHO certification is granted when a country proves that it has interrupted indigenous transmission of the disease for at least 3 consecutive years.
Globally, a total of 38 countries and territories have been declared malaria-free, as of May 22, 2019.
This is important news since malaria remains one of the world’s leading killers, with an estimated 219 million cases and over 400,000 malaria-related deaths reported in 2017.
Approximately 60 percent of these fatalities are among children aged under 5 years.
Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease caused by a parasite. People with malaria often experience fever, chills, and flu-like illness says the WHO.
Argentina’s malaria history spans hundreds of years, and the battle against the disease has been hard-fought.
In the 1970s, Argentina set out to eliminate malaria. Key elements of its approach included training health workers to spray homes with insecticides, diagnosing the disease through microscopy, and effectively responding to cases in the community.
Over the last decade, improved surveillance allowed for every last case of malaria to be rapidly identified and treated. And, cross-border collaboration was also critical.
Between 2000 and 2011, Argentina worked closely with the Government of Bolivia to spray more than 22,000 homes in border areas and conduct widespread malaria testing.
Importantly, both countries provided free diagnosis and treatment within their borders, ensuring no one was left behind in getting the services they needed to prevent, detect and cure the disease.
“Argentina 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.”
The U.S. President's Malaria Initiative's Thirteenth Annual Report to Congress describes the U.S. Government's leadership and technical and financial contributions to the fight against malaria in FY 2018.
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1,700 cases of malaria are diagnosed in the USA annually, mostly in returning international travelers.
The CDC publishes various travel alerts since millions of US residents travel to countries where malaria is present.
Malaria vaccine and medicine pre-departure counseling sessions can be scheduled at Vax-Before-Travel.