Mexico City Celebrates 10 Years Without a Malaria Case
This year’s World Malaria Day (WMD), observed each Apr. 25 since 2007 by members of the World Health Organization, focuses on harnessing innovation to reduce the malaria disease burden and save lives. Although malaria is a preventable and curable disease, 627,000 people died from it worldwide in 2020.
For this reason, WHO has suggested expanding the use of the RTS,S malaria vaccine among children under five years of age, which are the most vulnerable group. Patients with HIV/AIDS, people with low immunity, pregnant women and infants are also at high risk of getting infected. The RTS,S malaria vaccine was recommended by WHO for children at risk.
Malawi was the first country to promote the vaccine in Apr. 2019 as part of a pilot program. The program’s results went much further than malaria prevention. “The malaria vaccine pilot offered an opportunity to find new ways and means to get into the communities and mobilize them to demand the vaccine. That made it easier when COVID-19 vaccines were introduced,” said Malawi’s Minister of Health, Mike Chisema.
Currently, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is celebrating the World Immunization Week (WIW) to raise awareness of the importance of vaccinating people of all ages against preventable diseases. “As we continue to expand COVID-19 vaccine coverage, let us not forget the other diseases, for which effective protection exists,” said Carissa Etienne, Director, PAHO, as reported by MBN.
In Mexico, mortality from malaria is low. In 2020, Chiapas, Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Tabasco and Campeche reported malaria cases but the following year, the country saw less than 100 cases. During the past 10 years, 24 states including Mexico City, Guanajuato, Puebla and Zacatecas have not reported any malaria case and are thus considered to be malaria-free. Mexico’s government is committed to completely eliminate malaria through the Strategy of Certification of Areas Free of Autochthonous Paludism launched in 2014. Moreover, in 2021 Mexico signed an agreement with PAHO to become an autochthonous malaria-free country by 2025.
Ending the epidemic of malaria is one of the 2030 UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The objective is to reduce malaria cases and mortality rates by at least 90 percent and to eliminate the disease in at least 35 countries by 2030. The UN also aims to prevent a malaria outbreak in all countries that are currently free of the disease. To ensure the achievement of this goal, the Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030 advocates for access to malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment, and invites countries to accelerate efforts towards elimination of malaria. To reach this goal, the world will have to ramp up annual investment to US$10.3 billion by 2030.