WHO certifies Sri Lanka malaria-free
On Monday 5th September 2016, Sri Lanka was certified by WHO on having eliminated malaria, a life-threatening disease which long affected the island country.
WHO has published a press release declaring Sri Lanka malaria-free. WHO underlined the innovative approach applied to tackle malaria, with the support from key partners such as WHO and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, of which France is one of the main donor.
The press release reads:
“Sri Lanka’s achievement is truly remarkable. In the mid-20th century it was among the most malaria-affected countries, but now it is malaria-free. This is testament to the courage and vision of its leaders, and signifies the great leaps that can be made when targeted action is taken. It also demonstrates the importance of grass-roots community engagement and a whole-of-society approach when it comes to making dramatic public health gains,” WHO Regional Director, Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, said here.
Sri Lanka’s road to elimination was tough, and demanded well-calibrated, responsive policies. After malaria cases soared in the 1970s and 80s, in the 1990s the country’s anti-malaria campaign adjusted its strategy to intensively target the parasite in addition to targeting the mosquito.
The change in strategy was unorthodox, but highly effective.
To maintain elimination and ensure the parasite is not reintroduced to the country, the anti-malaria campaign is working closely with local authorities and international partners to maintain surveillance and response capacity and to screen high-risk populations entering the country.
Sri Lanka is the second country in the WHO South-East Asia Region to eliminate malaria after Maldives. (...)"