The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially recognized Algeria and Argentina as malaria-free countries, a historic achievement in fighting the mosquito-borne disease, which has been making a comeback globally. Contracted through the bite of an infected mosquito, malaria remains one of the world’s leading killers, with an estimated 219 million cases and over 400,000 malaria-related deaths in 2017.
For both Algeria and Argentina, malaria has a history that spans hundreds of years, and the battle against the disease has been hard-fought. Over the last decade, improved surveillance allowed for every last case of malaria to be rapidly identified and treated. 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.
In order for a country to be certified as malaria-free it has to prove that it has stopped in-country transmission of malaria for at least three consecutive years. The last cases of indigenous malaria in Algeria and Argentina were reported in 2013 and 2010 respectively. WHO said there were now 38 countries and territories that have been declared free of the disease.