The Gambia could become the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to eliminate malaria.
The prevalence of the malaria parasite in children under five has plunged to 0.2% from 4 % in 2011, according to the country’s National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP).
The total number of new malaria cases in the country has fallen by about 40% in that time – to 155,450 last year down from 262,000 in 2011, NMCP data shows.
Carla Fajardo from aid agency Catholic Relief Services said that aside from the usual control measures, such as antimalarial drugs, insecticide-treated bed nets and indoor spraying, Gambia has successfully used technology to tackle malaria.
NMCP head, Balla Kandeh said Gambia is aiming to achieve the milestone of having no new malaria cases by 2020.
“This last mile is the most difficult — we need more support to sustain the gains we have made, yet donors often turn their attention elsewhere as cases drop,” he said, adding that malaria rates in Gambia may rebound if more funding is not secured soon.