The World Health Organisation (WHO) is launching a new initiative on World Malaria Day on 25 April to halt malaria transmission in 25 more countries by 2025.
The 25 countries, among which are Thailand, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia that the WHO aimed to make malaria-free, would receive specialised support and technical guidance to help eradicate the disease.
The WHO in a statement said: “Countries in South-East Asia’s Greater Mekong region had already made great strides: the number of cases in the region comprised of Cambodia, China (Yunnan Province), Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam fell by 97 per cent between 2000 and 2020.
“But the coronavirus crisis has emerged as a serious challenge to malaria responses worldwide.
“More than one year into the pandemic, substantial disruptions to health services persist across the globe,’’ WHO added.
In many countries, lockdowns and restrictions on the movement of people and goods led to delays in the delivery of insecticide-treated mosquito nets or indoor insecticide spraying campaigns, and malaria diagnosis and treatment services were also interrupted.
Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. It is preventable and curable.
Globally, 39 countries and territories have been recognised as malaria-free by the WHO, and eleven countries have been certified malaria-free in the last 20 years.
According to the WHO, in 2019, there were an estimated 229 million cases of malaria worldwide and the estimated number of malaria deaths stood at 409,000.