No more Malaria in Cape Verde - great news for international travellers

No More Cases of Malaria in Cape Verde – Setting an Example

Cape Verde charts a groundbreaking course as the third African nation to eliminate malaria transmission.

In an unprecedented public health achievement, the island nation of Cape Verde has become the third country in Africa to be officially certified malaria-free by the World Health Organization (WHO), adding to its reputation as a safe country to visit.

This monumental accomplishment was no easy feat for the archipelago off the coast of West Africa, which has grappled with recurrent malaria epidemics since before the 1950s.

Cape Verde’s success unveils a hopeful way forward in envisioning a malaria-free future, both regionally and globally.


Key Takeaways from This Article:

  • The World Health Organization has certified Cabo Verde (Cape Verde) as a malaria free country. This makes Cape Verde the third country certified malaria-free in the WHO African region.
  • Strategic planning since 2007 focused on diagnosis, treatment, and investigating cases helped Cape Verde finally achieve 3 consecutive years of zero indigenous cases by 2017.
  • By setting an example to other nations around the world, Cape Verde has established itself as a key player in the fight against Malaria, a disease that kills.

Malaria – What You Need to Know

Malaria - What You Need to Know

Malaria is an endemic, potentially life-threatening condition infectious disease resulting from mosquito bites, impacting many tropical and subtropical regions globally.

Symptoms present 7 to 30 days after a bite and include high fevers, chills, fatigue, vomiting which, if untreated, can rapidly progress to severe anemia, organ failure or cerebral malaria. Young children and pregnant women face the highest risk of severe complications.

Africa shoulders a disproportionately massive share of the global malaria burden, accounting for over 90% of the estimated 240 million cases and 600,00 deaths worldwide in 2020 alone, as per the WHO.

Key drivers fuelling intense malaria transmission across many African countries include ideal climates where mosquitoes can thrive, overstretched health systems lacking resources, and barriers to preventative tools and life-saving treatments.

Cape Verde’s success in tackling and eliminating the disease showcases the country’s ability to face these challenges and overcome them. This also extends to fighting other mosquito borne diseases, such as dengue fever.

Malaria Transmission in Cape Verde

Malaria Transmission in Cape Verde

Cape Verde has been faced with recurrent malaria epidemics since before the 1950s, when all of its islands were classified as endemic for the disease. Through the mid 20th century, malaria transmission was intense in the most populous islands, with regular severe epidemics devastating communities already facing economic hardships.

Initial progress came through insecticide spraying campaigns in the 60s-80s, which achieved a brief period of elimination twice. However, lapses in continued vector control and surveillance subsequently enabled resurgences of malaria.

Since the late 1980s, the disease burden largely concentrated in Santiago and Boa Vista islands, though importation risks remained with frequent population movements from mainland Africa.

Even amidst the challenges of variable transmission dynamics, resource limitations, and prevention of reintroduction, Cape Verde remained steadfast over decades in incrementally scaling interventions tailored to eventually progress towards eliminating malaria by 2017.

A Milestone Achievement

A Milestone Achievement

For Cape Verde, this milestone caps a 7 decade journey requiring methodical investments to bolster detection and response capacities across islands while tailoring approaches to counter importation risks.

By successfully balancing the strengthening of health systems and island-specific targeted interventions, Cape Verde transformed malaria from an endemic public health scourge to achieving the elimination dream in just 10 years since their last indigenous case.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO, recently stated that “[The] WHO’s certification of Cabo Verde being malaria-free is testament to the power of strategic public health planning, collaboration, and sustained effort to protect and promote health.”

Reaching this historic milestone positions Cape Verde as only the third country in Africa successful in eliminating malaria amidst resource constraints – setting an ambitious yet viable example for other nations on the path towards envisioning their own malaria-free future.


While the malaria-free certification marks a monumental public health achievement, the work is far from over for Cape Verde in ensuring the disease does not recur. With malaria resurgences often happening within 5 years after elimination, the country recognizes it must double down on vigilance and flexibility to actively safeguard the hard-won gains.

The nation also understands its responsibility as a trailblazing leader to motivate and support other endemic African countries striding towards one day eliminating the disease and moving us one step closer to a malaria free world.


  • Could I still be at risk of getting malaria in certain parts of Cape Verde?

    As Cape Verde has eliminated local transmission countrywide, there is now an extremely low risk of malaria; however, given possibilities of reintroduction, travellers should still take precautions.

  • How can Cape Verde ensure malaria does not return in the future?

    As malaria is not a viral illness, care should be taken to monitor existing mosquito populations, as well as high-quality surveillance to swiftly detect imported cases. Ensuring enough resources are given to these strategies is key to maintaining Cape Verde’s malaria-free status.

  • Is it safe for me to travel to Cape Verde without malaria prevention medications or precautions?

    Though Cape Verde is now malaria-free, visitors should still be prudent with typical travel precautions like mosquito repellents until officially advised otherwise, as efficacy is temporary and requires continued vigilance. With that said, there is no need to take preventative medication.

  • Where can I find official health and travel advisories on visiting Cape Verde for the most updated information?

    Check the websites of health bodies like WHO, CDC, your home country’s government website, as well as Cape Verde’s government tourism site regularly for real-time travel guidance on the status of malaria in Cape Verde.

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