The World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared China malaria free. This makes it the first country in the Western Pacific in more than 30 years to have been declared malaria-free.
The country reported some 30 million malaria cases a year in the 1940s. Since the 1950s, that number has been reduced by a series of government efforts. Preventive drugs were provided in risk areas, mosquito breeding areas were reduced and repellents were made available on a large scale.
By the end of the 90s, the annual number of infections had fallen to 117,000 and the number of deaths decreased by 95 percent. In 2020, China did not record malaria for the fourth year in a row, after which the country applied for malaria free status.
Australia received that status in 1981, Singapore in 1982 and Brunei in 1987, and 40 countries and territories have received a malaria-free certificate worldwide from WHO. The Netherlands received one in 1970, and in other areas the infection was never detected or the disease disappeared on its own.
Malaria is transmitted by infected Anopheles mosquitoes. The disease causes high fever, headache and chills, and can be life-threatening if not treated in a timely manner. According to WHO, 229 million people suffered from malaria in 2019 and an estimated 409,000 people died of it. With 94 percent of all global malaria cases, Africa suffers most from the disease.