Sri Lanka is eligible for applying World Health Organization (WHO) malaria-free certification, said Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine Rajitha Senaratne at a press briefing held on Thursday.

“From November 2012, we have not received a single case of malaria, and this is the third consecutive year with no indigenous malaria. The certification of malaria-free status will be a great achievement which will also boost the development of the country,” said Minister Senaratne.

However, he pointed out that although no cases of indigenous malaria have been reported, cases of imported malaria especially from countries like India, Pakistan and African countries are being reported. “Foreign migrant workers and travelers and also Sri Lankans travelling to malaria endemic countries have been identified as high risk groups of imported malaria,” he added.

Out of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), countries only the Maldives and Sri Lanka have eliminated malaria. Although the country has now eliminated malaria, in 1991 40,000 cases were reported which reduced to zero by November 2012. Reports indicate that globally 3.4 billion people are at a risk of malaria, and 1.2 bn are  identified  as high risk cases. An estimated 482,000 children under five years of age have died of malaria.