Cape Verde is now the 44th country in the world and the fourth in Africa to successfully eliminate malaria.
In terms of the mosquito-borne illness, Africa has the greatest amount of cases globally. In the year 2022, 94% of the total 249 million cases and 95% of fatalities were reported on this continent.
In 2019, 2010, and 1973, Algeria, Morocco, and Mauritius were officially recognized as being free of malaria.
Cape Verde regularly experienced severe epidemics across all the archipelago’s 10 islands. However, since the 1980s, malaria had been confined to only two islands, Santiago and Boa Vista, both of which have not recorded cases since 2017.
On Friday, the World Health Organization announced that the country has made significant progress in eliminating mosquito-borne diseases through measures such as providing free treatment and testing for new arrivals, and implementing ongoing surveillance and mapping of mosquito breeding sites. These efforts will continue to be utilized in the fight against other diseases spread by mosquitoes, such as dengue fever.
“I commend the government and citizens of Cape Verde for their steadfast dedication and perseverance in their efforts to eradicate malaria,” stated Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO). “Cape Verde’s achievement is a recent triumph in the global battle against malaria and inspires us to believe that, with current resources and potential advancements such as vaccines, a world free of malaria is within reach.”
The number of worldwide instances of malaria is still notably higher than pre-Covid-19 times. In 2022, the illness claimed the lives of approximately 608,000 individuals, primarily young children and expectant mothers. According to the WHO, between 2019 and 2021, the pandemic’s impact on healthcare services led to an estimated 63,000 malaria-related deaths.
The WHO has approved two vaccines to fight the disease. The R21/Matrix-M was given the green light for widespread use in 2020, while the RTS,S vaccine, which received endorsement from the agency in 2021, will be distributed to 12 African countries within the next 2 years.
According to Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva, the certification of Cape Verde as a malaria-free country has been a long and impactful journey. This achievement greatly improves the country’s reputation and has positive implications for tourism and overall well-being. The successful management of health challenges in Cape Verde is now being acknowledged.