Paraguay has become the first malaria-free country among a list of 21 countries aiming to eliminate the disease by 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed on Monday.
The Geneva-based WHO noted that over the past decades, the Southern American country had developed policies to control the parasite-borne fever disease, including surveillance for new cases, free treatment and community awareness.
It confirmed Paraguay’s new status after no new cases were recorded in the past three years.
According to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, success stories such as Paraguay’s, show that elimination of the disease is possible what is possible.
“If malaria can be eliminated in one country, it can be eliminated in all countries,’’ the head of the UN health agency added.
In 2016, the WHO identified 21 countries around the globe that had the capacity to get to zero domestic infections by 2020.
According to the latest WHO scorecard, 10 countries on its list are on track to meet the goal.
They include Algeria, El Salvador and China, which did not see a single case in 2017.
However, WHO identified the worst performers as South Africa, Comoros, Botswana and Nepal, each recording thousands of cases in 2017.
It noted that malaria was still prevalent in 90 countries around the world.
According to the latest available WHO data, following a sharp decrease of cases over the past 15 years, infections rose fiev per cent to 216 million in 2016.
Media reports stated that 445,000 people died from the disease that year.