Infectious Disease

El Salvador is the primary Central American nation to eradicate malaria

February 25, 2021

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El Salvador was the first Central American country and the 38th country in the world to eradicate malaria, the Pan American Health Organization announced.

“Malaria has plagued humanity for millennia, but countries like El Salvador are living proof and inspiration to all countries that we can dare to dream of a malaria-free future,” said the WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, MSc, said in a press release.

Malaria infographic

Source: PAHO

The WHO regards a country as malaria-free when it has “proven beyond doubt that the chain of transmission of indigenous peoples has been broken for three consecutive years”. El Salvador is the third country in America to achieve malaria-free status after Paraguay in 2018 and Argentina in 2019.

Malaria cases in El Salvador fell from more than 9,000 to just 26 between 1990 and 2010, according to PAHO. The country has had no indigenous cases of the disease as of 2017.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

The country has stuck with its malaria response despite not having recorded any deaths from the disease since 1984, PAHO said. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the company maintained its malaria budget, relying on 276 vector control staff, 247 laboratories and more than 3,000 community health workers in 2020.

El Salvador is also a member of the WHO E-2020 initiative, a collaboration between 21 countries that in 2016 were determined to have the potential to eradicate the disease.

“El Salvador has worked hard to eradicate malaria and the human suffering that goes with it,” said PAHO director Carissa F. Etienne, MD, said in the publication. “Over the years, El Salvador has provided both the human and financial resources necessary for success. Today’s certification is a lifesaving achievement for America. “

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