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China declared officially malaria-free by WHO

(CNN)The World Health Organization declared China officially malaria-free on Wednesday -- making it the first country in the Western Pacific region to eliminate the life-threatening disease in more than 30 years.

Malaria, a parasitic disease transmitted through the bite of a female mosquito, kills 400,000 people a year worldwide, the majority children younger than 5, according to WHO. There is no licensed malaria vaccine on the market -- though a number of vaccine candidates are under development, and one has shown unprecedented efficacy levels in trials this year.

Malaria cases in China have been falling steeply since the turn of the century. In 2020, after reporting four consecutive years of zero indigenous cases, China applied for an official WHO certification of malaria elimination -- which was granted this week.

"Today we congratulate the people of China on ridding the country of malaria," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a statement on Wednesday. "Their success was hard-earned and came only after decades of targeted and sustained action. With this announcement, China joins the growing number of countries that are showing the world that a malaria-free future is a viable goal."

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