Editorials

Eliminating malaria: following Sri Lanka’s lead

BMJ 2016; 355 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i5517 (Published 20 October 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i5517
  1. Erika Larson, senior program manager for advocacy and communications1,
  2. Roly Gosling, associate professor12,
  3. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, coordinator3
  1. 1Malaria Elimination Initiative, Global Health Group, University of California San Francisco, USA
  2. 2Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California San Francisco, USA
  3. 3Malaria, Other Vector Borne And Parasitic Disease Unit, World Health Organization Western Pacific Regional Office, Manila, Philippines
  4. Correspondence to: R Gosling Roly.Gosling@ucsf.edu

Crossborder collaboration is an essential component of any elimination strategy

In September, the World Health Organization certified that Sri Lanka had eliminated malaria after it sustained zero local transmission for over three years.1 The long history of Sri Lanka’s fight against the disease,2 the country’s natural receptivity to malaria transmission,3 and the context of a 30 year civil conflict4 make this important public health achievement remarkable. Factors that contributed to Sri Lanka’s success include strong leadership, evidence driven policy, strong domestic funding, an ability to adapt to new circumstances, support of international partners, and the maintenance of services in conflict zones.5

Sri Lanka is only the second country in South East Asia to be certified malaria-free. Many more countries in Asia and elsewhere are on the cusp of elimination, however, and WHO estimates that over 20 countries will eliminate malaria by 2020.6

Success in achieving and sustaining malaria elimination requires the collaboration of neighbouring countries. In 2015, Sri Lanka reported 36 cases of malaria imported from other countries.7 To prevent an imported case …

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