Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday declared that the European region is the first in the world that has no malaria, with zero cases reported last year.
According to the WHO, the number of indigenous malaria cases went down from 90,712 in 1995 to zero in 2015.
The European region covers 53 countries with a total population of about 900 million, including Russia and the former Soviet republics.
WHO European regional office regards the 2005 Tashkent Declaration as a “turning-point in achieving a malaria-free Europe” as the declaration allowed countries affected by malaria to develop a strategy to eradicate the disease.
“This is a major milestone in Europe’s public health history and in the efforts to eliminate malaria globally,” said Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe.
Jakab attributed this achievement to the “strong political commitment” on the part of European leaders “with WHO support.”
“Until malaria is eradicated globally, people travelling to and from malaria-endemic countries can import the disease to Europe, and we have to keep up the good work to prevent its reintroduction,” Jakab added.
Last year, there were 214 million cases of the disease, and it killed 438,000 people, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa.
In 1975, Europe was declared malaria free, but the disease later re-emerged in the Caucasus, Central Asian republics, the Russian Federation and Turkey.
(With Agency inputs)