WHO certifies Belize as being malaria-free
June 21 (Reuters) - The World Health Organization (WHO) has certified Belize as being free from malaria, marking success for the Central American country after 70 years of continuous efforts to eradicate the disease.
The number of cases of malaria, which is caused by a bite from an infected Anopheles mosquito, have dropped from about 10,000 cases in 1994 to zero indigenous cases in 2019.
Belize is “another example of how, with the right tools and the right approach, we can dream of a malaria-free future,” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, said in a statement.
In its efforts to wipe out the disease, Belize has worked with the Belize Vector Ecology Center to analyse data on the density and distribution of malaria-carrying mosquitoes. It has encouraged the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets and trained community workers to give more timely diagnosis and treatment.
It has also collaborated with neighbouring Mexico and Guatemala, which the WHO said had been “essential”.
The WHO has so far certified 42 countries and one territory as having managed to eradicate malaria.
“Belize becomes the fourth country in the Americas and the second in Central America to be certified as free of malaria over the last five years,” Dr Jarbas Barbosa, director of the Pan American Health Organization, said in a statement.
(Reporting by Jyoti Narayan, Writing by Natalia Siniawski; Editing by Sharon Singleton)