Good riddance! There were an estimated 229 million cases of malaria worldwide in 2019, according to the WHO. Image credit: frank60/Shutterstock.com
China has officially eliminated malaria. On June 30, an official certification of malaria elimination from the World Health Organization (WHO) was awarded to China , the first country in the WHO Western Pacific Region to obtain this certificate in three decades.
This has been no small feat. In the 1940s, China reported some 30 million cases of the disease each year. However, off the back of decades of work, the number of cases reached zero in 2017.
To get this certificate, a country has to show with rigorous evidence that the chain of indigenous malaria transmission by Anopheles mosquitoes, the primary vector of the malaria parasite, has been interrupted nationwide for at least the past three consecutive years. China applied for an official WHO certification of malaria elimination in 2020 after reporting four consecutive years of zero indigenous cases.
The push to kick malaria out of China started in the 1950s when health authorities started providing preventive antimalarial medicines for people at risk of the disease, as well as controlling mosquito breeding grounds. Things stepped up a gear in 1967 under “Project 523”, a secret military project of the People's Republic of China to find antimalarial medications that took place during the country’s bloody “Cultural Revolution”.