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The World's Most Populous Country Says It's Close to Eliminating Malaria

China is on a mission to eliminate malaria by 2020, and it could be well on its way. 

The vice minister of China's National Health Commission, Cui Li, told the World Health Assembly on Tuesday that the country is close to eliminating the disease completely, stated-owned news agency Xinhua reports.  

"In 2017, for the first time, zero indigenous cases were reported in China, thus the efforts have had a significant impact on the country's elimination roadmap," Cui said at an event in Geneva. 

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Cui noted that China’s 10-year plan for eliminating malaria — which launched in 2010 — had been developed in collaboration with 12 different ministries. 

That China may have nearly eradicated the deadly disease responsible for nearly half a million deaths worldwide would be especially impressive, considering the prevalence of malaria in China as recently as the 1970s. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 24 million people in China came down with malaria in the early 1970s. By the late '90s, that number had been cut to the tens of thousands, the WHO reports

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Now, the only cases of malaria in China came via “imported cases” from other countries, according to state media sources.

Still, challenges remain.  

At the event, organized alongside the 71st World Health Assembly, WHO officials called for more funding for malaria prevention and research worldwide. 

"We only have less than half of the needed global funding available, and in some countries we are beginning to see a deterioration of the problem, with rising cases and rising mortality," Ren Minghui, assistant director-general of WHO, said.

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Read More: Malaria Is on the Rise Due to Lack of Funding, WHO Report Says

Global Citizen campaigns on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, and good health and well-being is Goal 3. This goal calls for an “end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases, and other communicable diseases.” 

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