WHO certifies China malaria-free after 70 years

On Wednesday, the World Health Organisation declared China Malaria free. The WHO chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, offered a certificate and congratulated the country in a press release. 

Tedros said that it was the sustained hard work and aimed action that delivered the result after seventy years. He stated that China joined those few countries in the world that are making it possible that a malaria-free future is viable. 

Notably, in the 1940s, China used to register around 30 million cases annually with malaria infection. However, it’s been more than four years that there has been a single new case in the country. So now, China became the 40th nation worldwide to have got a certificate from the Geneva-based WHO. 

Interestingly, the most recent countries before China to achieve the fiat were El Salvador (2021), Argentina, and Algeria (2019), Paraguay and Uzbekistan (2018). Notably, there’s another list of nations where malaria either never existed or vanished without much effort. The news has come amid the global coronavirus pandemic. 

In record more than three decades, China became the first country to be awarded malaria-free certification by the WHO’s Western Pacific region. The other three countries include Singapore in 1982, Australia in 1981 and Brunei in 1987. 

Beijing started to combat the places of malaria spread in the 1950s. As per WHO, the country used preventative anti-malaria medication to curtail the spread of the virus. The nation also worked on reducing the mosquito breeding grounds. It sprayed insecticides in homes and other places to prevent it. 

For finding new malaria treatments, China introduced a scientific program in 1967. Then, in the 1970s, artemisinin was discovered. It is the primary compound used in creating ACT (artemisinin-based combination therapies). It is the most effective drug available for the treatment of the malaria virus. 

It is noticeable that Chinese scientist Tu Youyou was behind the discovery of anti-malaria medicine. It saved millions of lives and turned out to be a gamechanger for treating malaria effectively. It was a breakthrough that won her Nobel Prize in the field of medicine or physiology in 2015. 

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