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WHO declares Sri Lanka malaria-free

Sri Lanka was on Monday declared malaria-free by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which called it a “remarkable public health achievement”. The WHO certified the tropical island nation of having eliminated malaria – a life-threatening disease caused by mosquitoes. “Sri Lanka’s achievement is truly remarkable. In the mid-20th century it was among the most malaria-affected countries,” said WHO Regional Director Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh.

Sri Lanka is the second country in the WHO South-East Asia Region to eliminate malaria after Maldives.

The Regional Committee has 11 member countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor Leste. It meets annually to discuss its programmes and budget which is hosted by a member country.

Sri Lanka’s road to elimination was tough and demanded well calibrated responsive policies, the WHO said.

After malaria cases soared in the 1970s and 80s, the country’s anti-malaria campaign in the 1990s adjusted its strategy to intensively target the parasite in addition to targeting the mosquito. The decision to declare Sri Lanka malaria-free was taken after WHO’s East Asia region’s annual committee meet. 

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