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 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
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
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.