WHO: Cape Verde Becomes Third African Country To Eliminate Malaria

AFP , Tuesday 16 Jan 2024

AP

 

Cabo Verde was certified as malaria-free  by the World Health Organization (WHO), only the third African country to have achieved this milestone.

The country, an archipelago of 10 islands off the West African coast near Senegal, joins 43 countries including African countries Mauritius and Algeria in eliminating malaria. 

Its last indigenous malaria case was recorded in January 2018.

“WHO’s certification of Cabo Verde being malaria-free is testament to the power of strategic public health planning, collaboration, and sustained effort to protect and promote health,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. 

Certification is granted when a country has shown “with rigorous, credible evidence” that the chain of indigenous malaria transmission by Anopheles mosquitoes has been interrupted nationwide for at least the past three consecutive years, and that the country has the capacity to prevent the re-establishment of transmission, according to the WHO.

“The certification as a malaria-free country has a huge impact, and it’s taken a long time to get to this point,” said Cabo Verde Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva. “In terms of the country’s external image, this is very good, both for tourism and for everyone else. The challenge that Cabo Verde has overcome in the health system is being recognised.”

Collaboration

Cabo Verde included the elimination of malaria in its national health policy in 2007. A strategic malaria plan from 2009 to 2013 focused on expanded diagnosis, early and effective treatment, and the reporting and investigating all cases. 

To stem the tide of imported cases from mainland Africa, diagnosis and treatment were provided free of charge to international travellers and migrants.

Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the country focused on improving the quality and sustainability of vector control and malaria diagnosis, strengthening malaria surveillance –   particularly at ports, airports, in the capital city and areas with a risk of malaria re-establishment.

The Ministry of Health worked with other government departments focused on the environment, agriculture, transportation, and tourism. The inter-ministerial commission for vector control was chaired by the Prime Minister and ensured collaboration, including  from community-based organisations and NGOs.

“This is an extraordinary accomplishment, a beacon of hope at a time when climate change threatens to slow down our progress in the global fight against malaria,” said Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund, which has assisted to fund the country’s anti-malaria efforts.

“What’s now crucial is that we do not lower our guard, and that we help Cabo Verde sustain this achievement and prevent the reintroduction of malaria. With this aim in mind, we will continue to fund vector control interventions and ensure quality case management and disease surveillance for another three years.”

Sands also called for use of new products that have proven to be safe and effective – such as next-generation insecticide-treated nets, insecticides, diagnostics, treatments or vaccines. 

“At the same time, it is crucial to build the supply chain, human resources for health and disease surveillance systems to support quality service delivery,” said Sands.

The Global Fund provides 65% of all international financing for malaria programs and has invested more than US$17.9 billion in malaria control programs as of June 2023.

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