Image copyright AFP Image caption The 100 countries on England’s disease list as of 2015 have been reduced to just 69
England has removed seven African countries from its report on the “Urgent Action Programme” to eradicate four deadly diseases, its officials said.
The health minister, Stephen Barclay, said efforts in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone had paid off “strongly”.
Liberia and Sierra Leone had twice been removed from the list, even though they remain listed as “critical”.
The move will disappoint anti-malaria campaigners, who had feared the return of a devastating disease.
They point to the recent resurgence of the African bacterial infection, vibrio vulnificus, on the west African coast and say it is now likely to become endemic in the region.
The remaining countries that remain on the list are Pakistan, Iran, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Mali, Mali and Eritrea.
The last seven to be removed have been invited to rejoin the programme – which aims to restrict the spread of disease by strengthening patient care and by intervening at source to stop the transmission of the diseases – by contributing more to health budgets.
Measles is no longer endemic in England but it is common in Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as the Isle of Man.
Although the disease was once widespread throughout the UK, its prevalence has declined considerably in recent years.
Each of the countries must submit a “projection” to give further details of how it hopes to avoid a return to the list.
The projections must address the challenge posed by three new life-threatening diseases as well as malaria and Chikungunya.
Mr Barclay said the partnerships in place were “commendable”.
“But we are taking this opportunity to reset the programme, as we return to focusing on the key work needed to achieve our goal of eradicating malaria,” he said.
Image copyright Unknown Image caption New viruses were discovered in the past two years, including pig viruses
The World Health Organisation said the new approach was all the more important because it was vital to put in place all the measures to eradicate malaria.
“The world must make malaria eradication a reality and a clear plan must be developed by the provinces in England to make that happen,” said Eric Goosby, the director of the WHO Malaria Programme.
“The elimination of this disease is achievable for the UK and other countries,” he added.
Image copyright iStock Image caption An alligator braves the weather to stand next to the London Eye
Malaria, which kills an estimated 390,000 people a year, is spread by mosquitoes. The mosquitoes – called Anopheles – bite people and then shed their blood, transporting malaria parasites that they can later infect others with.
Treatment with drugs is effective against malaria in most cases, but in some people a weaker drug can do the job for three to six months.
Although a malaria infection typically starts off mild and does not cause any noticeable symptoms, it can progress to a life-threatening stage, and affects more than 8 million people a year globally.
In 2015, England had around 800,000 cases of the disease and 56 deaths.