The World Health Organization (WHO) declared China malaria-free after a 70 years effort to eradicate the disease.
The WHO announced on Wednesday that China, which used to report 30 million annual cases of malaria in the 1940s, was free of the mosquito-borne infectious disease. The country has not reported a new case since 2017.
“We congratulate the people of China on ridding the country of malaria. 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,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday, June 30.
To be declared free of mosquito-borne disease, countries can apply for WHO certification after three years of no indigenous cases. But they must present rigorous evidence and demonstrate the capacity to prevent transmission re-emerging.
China applied for WHO certification in 2020, after four consecutive years of zero indigenous cases. Experts traveled to the country in May this year to verify the malaria-free status, and preparedness to prevent future outbreaks.
According to the WHO, around 40 countries have won the fight against malaria. China is the first country in the western Pacific region to achieve this breakthrough in 30 years. Other countries to gain the status recently were El Salvador, Algeria and Argentina, and Paraguay and Uzbekistan.