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WHO declares Paraguay malaria free

Tuesday June 12th, 2018

Paraguay is officially malaria free, the World Health Organization (WHO) has announced, making it the first country in the Americas since Cuba in 1973 to be granted the status.

In 2016, WHO identified Paraguay as one of 21 countries that had the potential to eliminate malaria by 2020 as part of its E-2020 initiative, which aims to eliminate the disease, and now the director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says it has achieved its goal.

From 1950 to 2011, Paraguay developed a suite of policies and programmes to control and eliminate malaria and registered its last case of Plasmodium falciparum malaria in 1995 and P. vivax malaria in 2011.

This was followed in 2011 by a five-year plan to prevent re-establishment of transmission and to prepare for elimination certification.

“Receiving this certification is a recognition of more than five decades of hard work in Paraguay, both on the part of public sector workers, as well as the community itself, who have collaborated time and time again in order to achieve the elimination of malaria,” said Dr Carlos Ignacio Morínigo, Minister of Health of Paraguay.

“Reaching this goal also implies that we must now face the challenge of maintaining it. Therefore, Paraguay has put in place a solid surveillance and response system in order to prevent the re-establishment of malaria.”

In 2016, the Ministry of Health launched a three-year initiative to build Paraguay’s front-line health workers’ skills who work to prevent disease, identify suspected malaria cases, accurately diagnose malaria and provide prompt treatment.

In April 2018, the independent Malaria Elimination Certification Panel agreed that Paraguay had interrupted indigenous malaria transmission for the required three years and recommended the WHO Director-General certify the country malaria-free.

“It gives me great pleasure today to certify that Paraguay is officially free of malaria,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Success stories like Paraguay’s show what is possible. If malaria can be eliminated in one country, it can be eliminated in all countries.”

Tags: South America | World Health

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