The World Health Organization announced that Algeria has been officially recognized as malaria-free.
A certification of malaria elimination is granted when a country has proven, beyond reasonable doubt, that the chain of indigenous transmission has been interrupted nationwide for at least the previous three consecutive years.
The WHO says Algeria reported its last case of indigenous malaria in 2013.
Algeria is the second country in the WHO African Region to be officially recognized as malaria-free, after Mauritius, which was certified in 1973.
“Now Algeria has shown the rest of Africa that malaria can be beaten through country leadership, bold action, sound investment and science. The rest of the continent can learn from this experience,” WHO Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti said.
Algeria provided free diagnosis and treatment of malaria within its borders, ensuring no one was left behind in getting services to prevent, detect and cure the disease.
According to the WHO, malaria become Algeria’s primary health challenge by the 1960s with about 80,000 cases reported annually. A French physician, Dr Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran, discovered the malaria parasite in Algeria in 1880.
Algeria managed to reach and maintain zero malaria cases through a well-trained health workforce, the provision of malaria diagnosis and treatment through universal health care, and a rapid response to disease outbreaks.
Argentina was also declared malaria free. It is the second country in the WHO Region of the Americas to be certified in 45 years, after Paraguay in June 2018. Its last case of indigenous malaria was reported in 2010.
The WHO says malaria is still one of the world’s leading killers, with about 219 million cases and over 400,000 malaria-related deaths recorded in 2017. About 60% of fatalities of malaria-related cases are among children aged under 5 years.