June 22, 2023
The World Health Organization (WHO) certified Belize as malaria-free yesterday following a 70-year campaign to eradicate the disease in the country. The organization cited Belize’s “strong surveillance for malaria, access to diagnosis and effective vector control methods, including insecticide-treated mosquito nets and indoor spraying of insecticides” in helping the country reduce its malaria burden from a peak of about 10,000 cases in 1994 to zero indigenous cases in 2019.
Countries are eligible for malaria-free certification when they have shown rigorous, credible evidence that the chain of indigenous malaria transmission by Anopheles mosquitoes has been interrupted nationwide for at least the past three consecutive years. They must also have a national surveillance system capable of rapidly detecting and responding to any malaria cases and an effective program to prevent re-establishment of the disease.
Following the announcement, WHO has certified 42 countries and one territory as malaria-free, including 11 countries in the Americas. Belize is the third country to be awarded a malaria-free status in 2023, following the certifications of Azerbaijan and Tajikistan in March.