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WHO declares Paraguay Malaria free

Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2018. 8:40 a.m. CST.

By BBN Staff:  Yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) certified Paraguay as having eliminated malaria.

Paraguay is the first country in the Americas to be granted this status since Cuba in 1973.

In a recorded statement, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s director general said that success stories like Paraguay’s show what is possible:  “If malaria can be eliminated in one country, it can be eliminated in all countries.”

Ghebreyesus commended Paraguay on its achievement and briefly outlined the success factors that enabled the country to become malaria-free.

In 2016, WHO identified Paraguay as one of 21 countries with the potential to eliminate malaria by 2020.

Through the “E-2020 initiative,” WHO is supporting these countries as they scale up activities to become malaria-free.

Other E-2020 countries in the Americas include Belize, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico and Suriname.

Dr. Carissa F Etienne, Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), WHO regional office for the Americas, also shared that PAHO has accompanied Paraguay in the crusade of Malaria elimination.

“This is a powerful reminder for the region of what can be achieved when countries are focused on an important goal, and remain vigilant after achieving that goal. We are hopeful that other countries will soon join Paraguay in eliminating malaria,” Etienne stated.

Paraguay developed policies and programs to control and eliminate malaria. Then, a five-year plan to consolidate the gains and prevent the re-establishment of the transmission was developed and launched in 2011.

Paraguay’s Minister of Health, Dr. Carlos Ignacio Morínigo, said that the certification comes with more than five decades of hard work in Paraguay from public sector workers and the community.

In 2016, in the next phase of the elimination drive, the Ministry of Health launched a three-year initiative to build Paraguay’s front-line health workers’ skills.

The independent Malaria Elimination Certification Panel concluded in April 2018, that Paraguay had interrupted indigenous malaria transmission for the requisite 3 years and had the capacity to prevent the re-establishment of transmission.

The panel recommended the WHO Director-General certify the country malaria-free

The official certification announcement was held at the second annual global forum of malaria-eliminating countries, convened by WHO in San José, Costa Rica from 11-13 June.

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