Africa: WHO Declares Cape Verde Free of Malaria

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Cape Verde has achieved the distinction of being the third African country to eliminate malaria, marking a significant triumph for public health authorities who implemented a comprehensive plan to address the mosquito-borne disease.

On Friday, the World Health Organization declared Cape Verde malaria-free, marking it as the third African country in the region to attain this status.

Cape Verde, officially known as Cabo Verde in Portuguese, a small archipelago comprising 10 islands in the Atlantic Ocean, has joined the ranks of Mauritius (in 1973) and Algeria (in 2009) in obtaining the malaria-free certification.

Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, remarked, "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."

Cabo Verde encountered numerous epidemics in densely populated areas before implementing a malaria action plan, declared a national health policy objective in 2007.

From 2009 to 2013, authorities diligently executed a strategic malaria plan across the island chain of approximately 500,000 people. The plan emphasized expanded diagnosis, early and effective treatment, and comprehensive reporting and investigation of all cases.

In an effort to curb the influx of malaria cases from mainland Africa, authorities implemented a policy of providing free diagnosis and treatment to international travelers and migrants.

The WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, praised the country, describing it as a "testament to the power of strategic public health planning, collaboration, and sustained effort to protect and promote health."

A WHO statement noted that the certification has the potential to attract more visitors and enhance socio-economic activities in a country where tourism contributes to approximately 25% of the GDP.

Malaria, a serious and at times fatal disease primarily transmitted by mosquitoes, is notably prevalent in Africa. In 2021, Africa accounted for approximately 95% of global malaria deaths and 94% of contaminations.