Malaria is a disease that has stricken people for thousands of years, and it was not until 1880 when it was discovered that the disease was caused by parasites. Malaria was the cause of five percent of all deaths in the 20th century alone, which equates to 300 million deaths. Malaria still continues to be a prominent illness; however, many countries, one of those being China, have been able to eradicate it. According to an article published by the Economist “on June 30 China was certified “malaria-free” by the World Health Organisation (WHO), a status granted to countries that have seen no transmission of the disease for at least the previous three consecutive years.”
In the 1940s, China had 30 million cases of malaria and 300,000 deaths every year. In 2010, it dropped to 5,000 cases, and, in 2017, the cases dropped to zero. This success is because of three policies being implemented: early intervention, surveillance, and cross-sector collaboration. China launched a program in 1955 called the Malaria Elimination Control Program. This program promoted the use of insecticide spray, improved irrigation, as well as better case spotting, and preventative treatments. Though this response to the vast malaria cases seemed simple, the measures helped start China towards lowering infection rates. During China’s work towards being malaria free, they were heavily-reliant on the “one-three-seven” strategy. The second there is a malaria case, health facilities have one day to confirm the diagnosis and investigate further. Then the authorities have three days to confirm and investigate the case. Lastly, action must be taken to prevent spread of infection within one week.
This regimen by China’s program stayed rigorous even during the recent pandemic. Other countries have struggled to keep up with their own malaria cases, and the COVID-19 pandemic has set them back even further. Resources usually used for malaria cases were used for COVID-19 instead, and that may result in malaria cases rising in those countries for the next five years. China’s efforts towards eradicating malaria over the years have paid off immensely, and we can only hope that more countries will follow in their footsteps to bring the malaria cases to zero.