- Cabo Verde becomes third country in the WHO African region to achieve malaria-free status
- The RBM Partnership to End Malaria celebrates this monumental achievement
Friday 12th January 2024 – Today, Cabo Verde has been certified malaria free by The World Health Organization (WHO), marking a significant achievement in global health.
Cabo Verde joins 42 additional countries and one territory worldwide that have already been awarded this certification by WHO. It is however, only the third country in the WHO African region to achieve malaria-free status in the last 50 years, joining Mauritius and Algeria, which were certified in 1973 and 2019 respectively.
Africa still bears the heaviest burden of malaria globally, with the most recent World Malaria Report showing 94% of all malaria cases and 95% of all malaria deaths are attributed to the WHO African Region.
“I salute the government and people of Cabo Verde for their unwavering commitment and resilience in their journey to eliminating malaria,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “WHO’s certification of Cabo Verde being malaria-free is testament to the power of strategic public health planning, collaboration, and sustained effort to protect and promote health. Cabo Verde's success is the latest in the global fight against malaria, and gives us hope that with existing tools, as well as new ones including vaccines, we can dare to dream of a malaria-free world.”
Dr Michael Charles, CEO of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria comments:
“The news of Cabo Verde achieving a malaria-free status is a testament to the dedication and perseverance of its people and health systems, and demonstrates that with strategic planning, sustained investment, community engagement, and wide scale implementation of preventative measures, the eradication of malaria is within reach. This milestone is not only a victory for Cabo Verde, but for the global malaria community as we strive to eliminate malaria across the world.
Despite all this, Cabo Verde’s malaria-free status also acts as a reminder that the fight against malaria is far from over. We are now beginning to see the impacts of climate change on malaria around the world and cases appearing in places where the disease had previously been eradicated or had not appeared before. With global cases exceeding 249 million, rising by 16 million since before the pandemic, now more than ever we must not waiver in our commitment to invest in, implement, and innovate new strategies and tools to support those who need it most. We encourage Cabo Verde to maintain its success so there isn’t a resurgence and to share lessons learned with malaria endemic countries - the fight isn’t over until all countries are able to eliminate malaria.”
Cabo Verde successfully eliminated malaria after implementing a strategic malaria plan from 2009 to 2013, which centred around expanded diagnosis, early and effective treatment plans, and increased surveillance and reporting of all malaria cases. When an outbreak of malaria emerged in 2017, Cabo Verde utilised the crisis as an opportunity to identify further areas for improvement in their malaria plan, which resulted in zero indigenous cases for 3 years. The country’s dedication to extensive malaria surveillance throughout the COVID 19 pandemic ensured they were then able to keep Cabo Verde free of the disease.
Having faced significant challenges with malaria in the past, the country is now expected to see several economic benefits, particularly in the tourism sector, which accounts for approximately 25 percent of its GDP. As a malaria free country, Cabo Verde can now welcome travellers to the island without inciting the fear of contracting the disease, and is likely to see visitor numbers rise.
The RBM Partnership celebrates Cabo Verde’s achievement in eliminating malaria and building a safer and healthier future for all.
However, there is still much to be done in the global fight against malaria. The most recent World Malaria Report, published by WHO, reveals that there were still an estimated 608,000 malaria deaths globally in 2022, and case numbers rose significantly in Pakistan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Uganda and Papua New Guinea, compared to the previous year.
Today, half of the world’s population is thought to be at risk of the disease. Given this, it is crucial that the global community remains committed to supporting the fight to end malaria.