World Health Organization declares China malaria-free

New Delhi: The World Health Organization (WHO) declared China malaria-free after a 70 year old effort to eliminate the disease.

China is the first country in the WHO Western Pacific Region to be awarded a malaria-free certification in more than 3 decades.

China’s elimination journey

In 1950s, health authorities in China worked to locate and stop the spread of malaria by providing preventive antimalarial medicines for people at risk of the disease as well as treatment for those who had fallen ill.

In 1967, the Chinese Government launched the “523 Project” – a nation-wide research programme aimed at finding new treatments for malaria.

In 1970s of artemisinin was developed which is the most effective antimalarial drugs available today.

In 1980s, China was one of the first countries in the world to extensively test the use of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) for the prevention of malaria.

By the end of 1990, the number of malaria cases in China had dropped to 117 000 and deaths were reduced by 95%.

With support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, beginning in 2003, China stepped up training, staffing, laboratory equipment, medicines and mosquito control.

Within 10 years, the number of cases had fallen to about 5000 annually.

In 2020, after reporting 4 consecutive years of zero indigenous cases, China applied for an official WHO certification of malaria elimination.

(With inputs from WHO)

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