WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus acknowledged the "century-long effort" made by both countries to eradicate the disease. He said this "is further proof that, with the right resources and political commitment, eliminating malaria is possible."
According to the UN agency, for a country to be certified malaria-free, it must demonstrate that the chain of indigenous malaria transmission by Anopheles mosquitoes has been interrupted throughout the country for at least the past three consecutive years and also demonstrate the ability to prevent the re-establishment of transmission.
The last case of locally transmitted Plasmodium vivax malaria was detected in Azerbaijan in 2012, while two years later in Tajikistan. Both countries have a national electronic malaria surveillance system.
The World Health Organization (WHO) certified Azerbaijan and Tajikistan on Wednesday for eliminating malaria in their territories.#WHO (via CGTN) pic.twitter.com/yoVitWRoQ4
With this achievement, there are now 41 countries certified as malaria-free by WHO, plus one territory.
More than half of the total belong to the European Region (21). WHO Regional Director for Europe, Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, said that the region "is now two steps closer to becoming the first in the world to be totally malaria-free."
The official recognized the efforts made by Azerbaijan and Tajikistan, which have resulted in "sustained investment and dedication of health workers, along with targeted prevention, early detection and treatment of all malaria cases."
Malaria is an acute febrile illness caused by parasites of the genus Plasmodium (most dangerous P. falciparum and P. vivax), which are transmitted to people by the bite of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.
Symptoms may include fever, vomiting, headache, chills, usually appearing 10 to 15 days after the bite of the infected mosquito. In severe cases, if left untreated, the disease can cause death within 24 hours.