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The RBM Partnership applauds countries accelerating towards global 2020 malaria elimination targets

Today the RBM Partnership to End Malaria welcomes the latest E-2020 progress report from the World Health Organization (WHO), confirming the world is on track to reach an historic milestone of progress in the malaria fight with at least 10 countries on track to reach zero indigenous malaria cases by 2020. Of these, China and El Salvador reported zero cases for the second consecutive year and Iran, Malaysia and Timor-Leste achieved zero indigenous cases of malaria for the first time in 2018.

Dr Abdourahmane Diallo, CEO of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria says:

Reaching malaria-free status is a critically important public health and sustainable development goal, and we must continue to support countries in their pursuit of zero malaria. Without malaria, people are healthier, more productive in school and at work and countries and economies are free to reach their full potential. China, El Salvador, Iran, Malaysia and Timor-Leste are leading global efforts to eliminate one of humanity’s oldest and deadliest diseases and their success proves that a malaria-free world is not only possible, but achievable.”

The latest E-2020 progress report comes on the heels of last month’s announcement that Algeria and Argentina have been certified malaria-free by the WHO. They join Paraguay and Uzbekistan as the latest countries to achieve this milestone in the last year. Importantly, more than half of all malaria-affected countries are reporting less than 10 000 cases of the disease per year.

Among the countries identified in this report, China’s achievement is particularly notable, having reduced cases of malaria from an estimated 30 million in the 1940s to zero in 2018. Key success factors were: a decades long vector control and ‘1-3-7’ surveillance campaign; a whole-of-government approach to malaria elimination; financial and technical support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and an increase in domestic resources. Now, following the footsteps of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as China transitions from a malaria-affected country to a malaria-free country, it has the opportunity to support other countries nearing malaria elimination by becoming a global donor to the malaria fight.

The E-2020 progress report also outlines the fragility of malaria elimination as Comoros, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico and the Republic of Korea all reported an increase of malaria cases in 2018.

Dr Diallo adds: “We cannot be complacent in our efforts to eliminate malaria. Increasing numbers of malaria cases in several E-2020 countries highlights the need for renewed commitment from governments and people alike. Eliminating malaria in low endemic areas frees up global resources to tackle the disease in the hardest hit areas. Momentum is on our side, but we must continue to increase global efforts to end malaria, realizing our shared goal of a day when no child dies from a mosquito bite.

The E2020 initiative was established by WHO in 2016 to track progress in 21 countries close to malaria elimination. The initiative maps advances towards one of five milestones set out in both the World Health Organisation’s Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030 and the RBM Partnership Strategic Plan 2018-2020 – to eliminate malaria from 10 countries in which the disease was transmitted in 2015 by 2020.

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