Another malaria milestone as WHO declares Cabo Verde free of deadly disease

Another malaria milestone as WHO declares Cabo Verde free of deadly disease

The certification is expected to drive progress on other health fronts in the country such as using the systems built for controlling malaria to fight other mosquito-borne diseases, including dengue fever.

“I salute the Government and people of Cabo Verde for their unwavering commitment and resilience in their journey to eliminating malaria,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

The certification is “testament to the power of strategic public health planning, collaboration, and sustained effort to protect and promote health,” he added.

An African and global success

With the certification, Cabo Verde – also known as Cape Verde – joined the ranks of 43 countries and one territory which have eliminated the disease. It is the third African nation to join the list, along with Mauritius and Algeria, which were declared malaria free in 1973 and 2019, respectively.

Malaria burden is the highest on the African continent, which in 2021 accounted for approximately 95 per cent of global malaria cases and 96 per cent of related deaths.

“Cabo Verde’s success is the latest in the global fight against malaria, and gives us hope that with existing tools, as well as new ones including vaccines, we can dare to dream of a malaria-free world,” Mr. Tedros said.

Echoing those words, Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Director for Africa, said it was an inspiring example for other nations to follow.

“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 multisectoral collaboration, malaria elimination is an achievable goal,” she said.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (right) marks elimination of malaria in Cabo Verde with Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva (centre) and Minister of Health Filomena Mendes Gonçalves (left).

Sustained public health efforts

WHO also noted Cabo Verde’s sustained efforts to combat malaria, including at the policy level, in diagnosis, treatment and reporting.  

It also adjusted its plans in the wake of a 2017 outbreak, making improvements leading to zero indigenous cases.

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it safeguarded progress with efforts focused on improving the quality and sustainability of vector control and malaria diagnosis, strengthening malaria surveillance.

Certification of malaria elimination

The certification of malaria elimination is the official recognition by WHO of a country’s malaria-free status.

It is granted when a country has shown – through rigorous, credible evidence – that the chain of indigenous transmission by Anopheles mosquitoes has been interrupted nationwide for at least the past three consecutive years.

A country must also demonstrate the capacity to prevent re-emergence of transmission.

The final decision on awarding a malaria-free certification rests with the WHO Director-General, based on a recommendation by the independent Technical Advisory Group on Malaria Elimination and Certification.

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