Towards a malaria-free European Region by the end of 2015

The number of malaria cases in the WHO European Region has dropped dramatically. Cases reported locally have declined from above 90 000 in 1995 to only two reported in Tajikistan in 2014. Statistics indicate, however, that about 5000 cases were imported into the Region in 2014, and the threat of reintroducing the disease remains. The WHO European Region aims to interrupt the transmission of malaria and eliminate the disease by the end of this year.

Countries certified malaria free

Eliminating malaria from the Region by the end of 2015 is a realistic and attainable goal. Of the nine European countries with continuing transmission in 2000, three have now been certified free of malaria (Turkmenistan in 2010, Armenia in 2011 and Kazakhstan in 2012).

Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan are in the prevention-of-reintroduction phase, having reported zero indigenous cases for the past three years or more, while Azerbaijan, Tajikistan and Turkey are in the final phase of the elimination process.

Threat of malaria reintroduction

Nevertheless, experience shows that malaria can spread rapidly and is a continual threat. For instance, Greece had managed to remain malaria free between 1974 and 2009, but in 2010 three locally acquired malaria cases were reported, followed by 40 in 2011, 20 in 2012 and three in 2013. Following intensified control efforts, local malaria transmission in Greece was interrupted and zero locally acquired cases were reported in the country in 2014.

Imported cases

Imported malaria is currently a significant medical and health issue in many European countries where the disease has been successfully eliminated. Around 5000 imported malaria cases are reported annually in the Region, but the magnitude of the problem is thought to be much greater than statistics indicate.

Reaching the 2015 elimination goal

The regional framework for the prevention of malaria reintroduction and certification of malaria elimination 2014–2020 outlines vital ways to avoid the resurgence of malaria in countries where it has already been eliminated. In addition, methodological aspects of the process of certifying countries free from malaria have been developed to support countries in updating their national strategies. Vital elements to prevent the reintroduction of malaria-transmitting mosquitoes and the spread of the disease are vector surveillance and control and early detection of cases in humans.

World Malaria Day 2015

World Malaria Day, marked annually on 25 April, is an occasion to highlight the need for continued investment in and sustained political commitment to malaria control and elimination. The theme for the 2013–2015 campaign is "Invest in the future: defeat malaria".