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Paraguay Gets Malaria Free Status from WHO

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 DTMT Network
The sustained efforts of Paraguay have finally paid off. After a five year period when there has been no malaria case in the country, Paraguay has been declared by the WHO to be malaria free.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Paraguay free from malaria.

Paraguay is the first country in the American continent which has been declared free from malaria since 1973 when Cuba was declared free from malaria.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General-WHO, said that success stories like that of Paraguay show what is possible. If malaria can be eliminated in one country, it can be eliminated all countries, he said.

The WHO ran a program “E-2020 initiative” in which selected countries scale up activities to become malaria free. E-2020 countries in America include Belize, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico and Suriname.

From 1950 to 2011, Paraguay methodically developed policies and programs to control and eliminate malaria. In the 1940’s, around 80,000 cases of malaria were registered in Paraguay.

Because of the sustained efforts to curb the mosquito population as well as efforts to prevent spread and recurrence of the disease, the last registered case of Plasmodium vivax malaria in Paraguay was seen in 2011.

To prevent malaria, the authorities in Paraguay started activities focused on community education, awareness, mosquito control, prevention of transmission along with diagnosis and early treatment.

In 2016, the Paraguay Health Ministry launched a three year program to help first line health workers. This was funded by The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis. This provided the necessary wherewithal to eliminate malaria.

Seven countries and territories were certified malaria-free from 1960 to 1973 from the Americas including Cuba, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, and the northern part of Venezuela. Malaria cases and deaths declined substantially. But, Between 2016 to 2017 the rise of malaria cases was reported in several countries indicating that major challenges remained in particularly remote areas including the diagnosis, treatment, and investigation of malaria cases.

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