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Cape Verde becomes third African country to eliminate malaria

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Cape Verde is the third African nation to be declared malaria free, even as the disease continues to kill hundreds of thousands of people on the continent, the World Health Organization said Friday.

The Atlantic archipelago of about 500,000 inhabitants follows Mauritius in 1973 and Algeria in 2019.

Worldwide at least 43 countries have been certified as malaria-free by the WHO, which requires showing that the domestic chain of transmission has been broken for at least three consecutive years.

“I salute the government and people of Cabo Verde for their unwavering commitment and resilience in their journey to eliminating malaria,” said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, using the country’s local name.

“WHO’s certification of Cabo Verde being malaria-free is testament to the power of strategic public health planning, collaboration, and sustained effort to protect and promote health.

“Since the last peak in the late 1980s, malaria in Cape Verde has been confined to two islands: Santiago and Boa Vista, which have now both been malaria-free since 2017.

The disease is particularly present in Africa, which in 2021 accounted for 95 percent of deaths and 94 percent of contaminations. Children under five represented 80 percent of the deaths in Africa, the WHO said.

“Cabo Verde’s achievement is a beacon of hope for the African Region and beyond. It demonstrates that with strong political will, effective policies, community engagement and multi-sectoral collaboration, malaria elimination is an achievable goal,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

“The attainment of this milestone by Cabo Verde is an inspiring example for other nations to follow.”

The WHO estimates that malaria killed 608,000 people worldwide and infected 250 million in 2022.

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