Chinese health officials surely gathered praise today at the start of the World Health Organization’s annual meeting of malaria-eliminating countries, held this year in Wuxi, China. The WHO announced today
that the country has not recorded a single homegrown case of malaria
since August 2016, making 2017, 2018 and 2019 (so far) years free from malaria cases that China has the power to stop from happening on its own soil.
Full malaria case numbers for 2018 have yet to be released, but in 2017 China also significantly reduced the number of people infected with malaria coming in through its borders, as reports by Xinhuanet
and scientific authors Shaosen Zhang et al.
China fought malaria by giving clinics the right tools and resources to run quick blood tests, surveilling malaria cases closely, identifying where malaria originated and spraying affected areas with insecticide. Rural development initiatives were brought on board to help with eliminating mosquito breeding sites, giving out mosquito nets and raising awareness of the disease. To reduce imported cases, China strengthened border screenings and ran information campaigns among tourists and business travelers.The WHO identified 21 countries in 2016 with the potential to eliminate local malaria cases by 2020.
So far, China, Algeria, Iran, Malaysia, Timor-Leste and El Salvador have achieved this for at least two consecutive years. After five years, countries are certified malaria-free, as happened in the case of Algeria this year.