The World Health Organisation (WHO) has certified Sri Lanka for eliminating malaria disease, which long affected the island country.
Between the 1970s and 1980s, malaria cases in Sri Lanka increased, following which the country’s anti-malaria campaign introduced a new strategy in the 1990s to target the parasite in addition to targeting the mosquito.
WHO regional director Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh said: “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.”
To tackle this issue, authorities in the country carried out effective surveillance, community engagement and health education, which improved their ability to respond.
They also mobilised support for the anti-malaria campaign, which is working with local authorities and international partners to maintain surveillance and response capacity.
Sri Lanka recorded less than 1,000 cases of malaria per year by 2006, and the indigenous cases were down to zero since October 2012.
No locally transmitted cases have been recorded in the country during the past three-and-a-half years, WHO said.
Dr Singh further added that the WHO will continue to support the efforts of the country’s health authorities as they relate to malaria, as well as the country’s public health mission.
Image: Anopheles stephensi is a primary mosquito vector of malaria. Photo: courtesy of Jim Gathany / CDC.