"WHO Certifies Cabo Verde as Malaria-Free, Marking Historic Milestone in Global Fight Against Malaria"

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Cabo Verde a malaria-free country, a significant milestone in global health. This certification places Cabo Verde among the 43 countries and 1 territory recognized by WHO for achieving this status.

Cabo Verde is the third country in the WHO African region to receive this certification, following Mauritius in 1973 and Algeria in 2019. Malaria is most prevalent in Africa, accounting for about 95% of global cases and 96% of related deaths in 2021.

The certification of malaria elimination will have far-reaching positive impacts for Cabo Verde. The systems and structures developed for malaria elimination have strengthened the country’s health system and will be utilized to combat other mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever. Additionally, travelers from non-malaria endemic regions can now visit Cabo Verde without the fear of contracting malaria, which could potentially boost tourism and socio-economic activities in a country where tourism contributes to about 25% of the GDP.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, praised the government and people of Cabo Verde for their commitment to eliminating malaria, highlighting the success as a result of strategic public health planning, collaboration, and sustained effort. He expressed hope that with existing tools and new developments such as vaccines, a malaria-free world is within reach.

The certification is granted when a country demonstrates, with robust evidence, the interruption of indigenous malaria transmission by Anopheles mosquitoes nationwide for at least three consecutive years and the capacity to prevent its resurgence.

Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva described the certification as a significant achievement for Cabo Verde, acknowledging the country’s efforts in overcoming health system challenges and the positive impact on its external image.

Cabo Verde, an archipelago of 10 islands in the Central Atlantic Ocean, has faced significant malaria challenges. While the disease was prevalent in all islands before the 1950s, targeted interventions led to its elimination twice, in 1967 and 1983. Subsequent lapses in vector control resulted in a resurgence, but since the late 1980s, malaria has been confined to Santiago and Boa Vista islands, both of which have been malaria-free since 2017.

Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, commended Cabo Verde’s achievement as a beacon of hope for the African region and beyond, emphasizing that malaria elimination is attainable with strong political will, effective policies, community engagement, and multisectoral collaboration.

Cabo Verde’s journey to malaria elimination began with the inclusion of this objective in its national health policy in 2007. Strategic malaria plans from 2009 to 2013 laid the groundwork for success, focusing on expanded diagnosis, early and effective treatment, and comprehensive case reporting and investigation. The country also provided free diagnosis and treatment to international travelers and migrants to prevent the importation of cases from mainland Africa.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Cabo Verde maintained its focus on malaria elimination by improving vector control and diagnosis quality, enhancing surveillance, and strengthening efforts to prevent malaria resurgence.

Collaboration between the Ministry of Health and various government departments, as well as community-based organizations and NGOs, played a crucial role in Cabo Verde’s success. The holistic approach to public health, led by an inter-ministerial commission for vector control chaired by the Prime Minister, exemplifies the importance of coordinated efforts in achieving public health goals.

As Cabo Verde celebrates this remarkable achievement, the global community applauds its leaders, healthcare professionals, and citizens for their dedication to eliminating malaria and creating a healthier future for all.

Piers Potter


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