Jun. 11

UN Special Envoy Applauds Malaria-Free Paraguay

by Ray Chambers

This week, the World Health Organization (WHO) certified the Republic of Paraguay malaria-free, the first country in the Americas to earn this designation in 45 years. I applaud Paraguay’s leadership, from the highest levels of government to the diverse network of health workers in the field, for tackling this life-threatening disease with unwavering tenacity.

Paraguay’s accomplishment is testament to what can be achieved when political will and appropriate resources are invested prudently and efficiently. Paraguay’s National Malaria Control Programme (SENEPA) concentrated efforts on treating malaria cases, while simultaneously tracking and preventing outbreaks—a truly remarkable feat.

The WHO also confirmed that a diverse set of countries spanning five regions are accelerating towards malaria elimination, putting the world on track to mark a major malaria milestone in 2020. Argentina, Algeria and Uzbekistan are eligible to be certified malaria-free later this year.

Paraguay’s success shows that progress is possible, even at a time when the malaria fight has stalled globally, and cases have increased in countries with the highest burden. Countries poised to get to zero cases by 2020 must seize the opportunity and be supported in their pursuit to bring the world closer to a malaria-free world.

The Regional Malaria Elimination Initiative, which was launched earlier this year by the Inter-American Development Bank, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carlos Slim Foundation, brings critical new funds to the malaria fight by supporting Central American countries in taking the final steps necessary to eliminate malaria in their territories by 2020. Many of those countries are on track to eliminate, with El Salvador marking zero malaria cases for the first time in 2017.

Doubling-down on our commitments to make use of and identify new financing and bring new technologies to bear, will help ensure an end to this scourge once and for all.

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