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Cabo Verde: An Inspiration in the Global Fight Against Malaria

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Medriva Correspondents
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Cabo Verde: An Inspiration in the Global Fight Against Malaria

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In a significant achievement for global health, the World Health Organization (WHO) has certified Cabo Verde as a malaria-free nation. The third country in the heavily affected African region to achieve this status, Cabo Verde's success story is a testament to the effectiveness of dedication, collaboration, and robust public health measures in combating this deadly disease.

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Malaria-Free Certification: A Rigorous Process

The certification of being malaria-free is not easily earned. It is awarded by the WHO when a country can provide rigorous and credible evidence that the chain of indigenous malaria transmission has been interrupted nationwide for at least three consecutive years. Cabo Verde met this stringent criterion, marking the end of a disease that has historically posed significant challenges to the country.

The Key to Success: Multisectoral Collaboration and Community Engagement

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Cabo Verde's journey to malaria elimination is a story of strong political will, effective policies, and community engagement. The country's targeted interventions have led to zero indigenous cases for three consecutive years. The commitment of community-based organizations and non-governmental organizations played a pivotal role in this achievement, highlighting the importance of multisectoral collaboration in health initiatives.

Economic Impact of the Certification

Cabo Verde's malaria-free certification has more than just health implications. With tourism accounting for approximately 25% of the country's GDP, the certification has the potential to attract more visitors and boost socio-economic activities. The success in eliminating malaria could also drive positive development, further enhancing the country's economic prospects.

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Challenges Overcome and Lessons Learned

Before the 1950s, all ten islands in the country were affected by malaria, and severe epidemics regularly broke out in the most densely populated areas. The disease returned each time there were lapses in the eradication campaign. However, since the last peak in the late 1980s, malaria in Cabo Verde has been confined to two islands: Santiago and Boa Vista, which have now both been malaria-free since 2017. This success can be attributed to a strategic malaria plan implemented from 2009 to 2013, which focused on expanded diagnosis, early and effective treatment, and the reporting and investigating of all cases.

Maintaining Vigilance in the Face of New Challenges

Even in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, Cabo Verde authorities have maintained their vigilance against malaria. Diagnosis and treatment were provided free of charge to international travellers and migrants to stem the tide of imported cases. This adaptability and resilience in addressing health challenges are integral to maintaining the malaria-free status and can serve as a model for other countries in their fight against malaria.

Cabo Verde's achievement is a beacon of hope for the African Region and beyond, demonstrating that with concerted effort, malaria elimination is within reach. The country's success underscores the effectiveness of its malaria control strategies and serves as an inspiration for other countries seeking to eliminate the disease. As we look toward a malaria-free future, Cabo Verde's journey offers valuable lessons and insights.

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