It's official: China has eliminated malaria.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is now certifying China as malaria-free, after a decades-long effort that generated an estimated 30 million cases in the 1940s, including 300,000 deaths, to zero in 2017. Along the way, China has developed new surveillance techniques, drugs and technologies to break the transmission cycle between Anopheles mosquitoes that spread malaria parasites and humans.

Antimalarial efforts began in the 1950s with programs to distribute antimalarial drugs to people at risk, reduce mosquito breeding sites and spray insecticides. China launched a program to identify new anti-malaria drugs in the late 1960s. As part of that effort, pharmaceutical chemist Tu Youyou examined traditional Chinese medicine blends for compounds active against malaria, eventually isolating artemisinin from absinthe sweet (Artemisia annua). Artemisinin has become the main compound of the now-used front-line drugs against malaria and won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for You in 2015. China was also one of the pioneering countries in the use of insecticide-treated nets in medicine. 1980s.

The annual number of cases has dropped over the years, reaching about 5,000 annually in the late 1990s. In 2012, the country began an effort to eliminate malaria with a “1-3-7” strategy, allowing for local health facilities 1 day to report a malaria diagnosis, 3 days to investigate the case, and 7 days to implement countermeasures. In recent years, Chinese scientists have developed genetic-based approaches to screen for drug resistance and distinguish indigenous cases from imported ones.