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El Salvador becomes first Central American country to be declared malaria-free

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  • Published
    1st Mar, 2021


El Salvador has become the first country in Central America and the third in all Americas to get the malaria-free certificate from the World Health Organization (WHO) in recent years.


  • Malaria is a life-threatening disease. It’s typically transmitted through the bite of an infected Anopheles
  • Infected mosquitoes carry the Plasmodium When this mosquito bites, the parasite is released into bloodstream.
    • Once the parasites are inside your body, they travel to the liver, where they mature. After several days, the mature parasites enter the bloodstream and begin to infect red blood cells.
    • Within 48 to 72 hours, the parasites inside the red blood cells multiply, causing the infected cells to burst open.
    • The parasites continue to infect red blood cells, resulting in symptoms that occur in cycles that last two to three days at a time.

Items for Box

  • Over 200 million cases of malaria are reported across the world and more than 400,000 people die of the disease every year.
  • The Americas recorded a 66 per cent rise in malarial infections since 2015 due to growth in transmission in some countries, according to WHO.
  • In 2019, 229 million cases of malaria and over 409,000 deaths from the disease were recorded across the world.
  • An astounding 94 per cent of these cases and deaths were in WHO African Region.
  • Half the global malaria-related deaths in 2019 were in six African countries — Nigeria (23 per cent), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (11 per cent), Tanzania (5 per cent), Burkina Faso (4 per cent), Mozambique (4 per cent) and Niger (4 per cent each).

What is the Malaria elimination certificate?

  • Malaria elimination certificate is awarded to a country when the chain of indigenous transmission of the disease has been disrupted nationwide for at least three consecutive years.
  • El Salvador, which received the certificate on February 25, 2021, didn’t report a single case of malaria that was acquired locally (indigenous) since 2017. It recorded it last malaria death in 1984.
  • In the three decades between 1990 and 2010, the cases in the country fell from 9,000 to 26. There was only one malaria outbreak in this period in 1996.

Other malaria-free countries

  • The only other countries in the WHO Regions of Americas to have eliminated malaria in recent years are Paraguay (2018) and Argentina (2019).
  • The other countries that eliminated malaria in the last decade are Morocco and Turkmenistan in 2010, Armenia in 2011, Maldives in 2015, Sri Lanka and Kyrgyzstan in 2016 and Uzbekistan in 2018.
  • El Salvador is among 21 countries identified in 2016 as having the potential to eliminate the mosquito-borne disease by 2020 in a WHO initiative called ‘E-2020’.  

What is the status of India?

  • In India, the malaria infections fell by 14.4 million between 2000 and 2019 — the largest reduction in South-East Asia, according to World Malaria Report 2020.
  • In 2019, the country accounted for about 86 per cent of all malaria deaths in the region, 

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