The World Health Organization (WHO) has awarded China with a malaria-free certification. According to the WHO website, the status has been achieved after 70 years of effort. While in the 1940s, there used to be 30 million cases of the disease annually, today, the country is free from malaria.
In over three decades, China has also become the first country to be awarded a malaria-free certification in the WHO Western Pacific Region. Previously, WHO had awarded this certification to Australia in 1981, Singapore in 1982, and Brunei Darussalam in 1987.
All over the world, WHO has given as many as 40 countries and territories a malaria-free certification. In 2021, El Salvador received the certification, while Algeria and Argentina received it in 2019. In 2018, Paraguay and Uzbekistan received malaria-free certification.
As per the WHO website, in the 1950s, preventive antimalarial medicines were given to those identified at the risk of being infected with malaria.
Insecticide was sprayed in homes, and China also worked to reduce areas that could act as breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
A nationwide research program titled 523 Project was launched in China by the government in 1967. A core compound of antimalarial drugs called artemisinin was discovered by over 500 scientists from 60 institutions through this research.
The country also tested the use of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) to prevent malaria. The number of malaria cases decreased in the region where ITNs were used.
After four consecutive years of having zero indigenous cases, China applied for the WHO certification in 2020. In May 2021, members of the independent Malaria Elimination Certification Panel verified China’s claims and granted them the certificate.
Speaking about the development, the Director-General of WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, congratulated the people of China for ridding the country of malaria.
He said, “Their success was hard-earned and came only after decades of targeted and sustained action. With this announcement, China joins the growing number of countries that are showing the world that a malaria-free future is a viable goal.”
“Congratulations to China on eliminating malaria,” said Dr. Takeshi Kasai, Regional Director, WHO Western Pacific Regional Office. “China’s tireless effort to achieve this important milestone demonstrates how strong political commitment and strengthening national health systems can result in eliminating a disease that once was a major public health problem.
Some ways that China uses to ensure that malaria hopes to provide a basic public health service package for its residents free of charge. As part of this package, all people in China have access to affordable services to diagnose and treat malaria, regardless of legal or financial status.