Malaria, the battle won by Italy 50 years ago

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On November 17, 1970, the WHO certified that our country had freed itself from the disease. But attention must remain high | Courier TV

Fifty years ago, on November 17, 1970, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially certified that Italy was free from malaria. On the anniversary, the Higher Institute of Health organized two international scientific conferences. The first will be held on November 19 and aims to explain that Plasmodium vivax malaria is not a mild disease, given the growing evidence of severe manifestations. The second appointment to be held on November 24 will instead be an opportunity to take stock with other institutions on the current challenges in the fight against malaria, particularly in Africa. The director of the Global Malaria Program of WHO, Pedro Alonso .. “Our Institute, founded in 1934 precisely to fight malaria, played a central role in reaching this historic milestone – says the president of the ISS Silvio Brusaferro – Italy celebrates today this success without forget, however, that malaria has far from gone: half of the world population is still at risk of being infected by Plasmodium transmitted by Anopheles mosquitoes ». In 2018 alone, the WHO estimated 230 million cases of malaria with over 400,000 deaths, mostly children under 5 in sub-Saharan Africa. This means that this infection kills a baby every two minutes. Europe has around 8000 cases of malaria imported by travelers every year, of which 800 in Italy alone. “Only a few years ago, in 2011, neighboring Greece, declared free from malaria in 1974, was plagued by several outbreaks of malaria transmitted by local mosquitoes – says Carlo Severini, ISS malariologist – It is essential to constantly monitor the risks of reintroduction of this disease “. One cause for alarm is the spread of insecticide-resistant mosquito strains. “The appearance in South East Asia of parasites resistant to modern treatments with multiple antimalarial drugs – adds Pietro Alano, ISS malariologist – would have devastating effects if it overflowed into Africa considering that today we still do not have a truly effective protective vaccine”.


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