30 March 2023
GENEVA – In a remarkable public health achievement, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan were today certified malaria-free by the World Health Organization (WHO). The certification is granted when a country proves that it has interrupted indigenous transmission of the disease for at least three consecutive years.
“It’s an extraordinary outcome,” said Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund. “We applaud Azerbaijan and Tajikistan’s success, which was hard-won and came only after decades of concerted action. Their success shows that malaria elimination is a viable goal for all countries.”
Azerbaijan detected its last case of locally transmitted malaria in 2012; Tajikistan reached the same milestone in 2014. Both countries are part of E2025, an initiative launched by WHO and supported by the Global Fund and other donors to accelerate elimination in 25 more countries by 2025. With today’s announcement, a total of 41 countries and one territory have been certified as malaria-free by WHO, and all certified countries have prevented the re-establishment of malaria.
Success is driven by strong, resilient systems for health that ensure access to malaria prevention, diagnosis, and treatment services for everyone. Community health workers are a critical force in the fight to eliminate malaria, particularly in hard-to-reach areas. Political commitment is also crucial to ensure that sufficient resources and effective leadership are sustained until the very end, and – beyond elimination – to prevent the re-establishment of malaria.
Progress in malaria control has stalled since 2018, and the COVID-19 pandemic has knocked the fight further off track. Funding has plateaued, drug and insecticide resistance are increasing, and climate change threatens to push malaria transmission into new regions. Malaria prevention underpins malaria control efforts and is the most effective way to dramatically reduce cases and deaths. The Global Fund invests in multiple new and existing tools to prevent malaria.
“More than ever before, the Global Fund needs to support countries in their efforts to revitalize and sustain the fight against malaria,” said Sands. “We must strive to provide better and more equitable access to all health services, vastly increase funding for malaria programs, invest in new approaches and innovations and improve use of existing tools.”
The Global Fund’s investments represent 63% of the international response to malaria, with US$16.4 billion invested since 2002.