SA could be malaria free by 2020

The WHO estimates that 21 countries are in a position to become malaria free.

FILE. In South Africa the elimination of malaria is a public health objective. Picture: sxc.hu.

JOHANNESBURG - The World Health Organisation (WHO) says South Africa and two of its neighbours, where malaria is most widespread, could be free of the disease by 2020.

The United Nation's health arm on World Malaria Day said it's aiming to wipe out the disease in at least 10 countries by the end of this decade.

The WHO estimates that 21 countries are in a position to become malaria free.

This includes six African countries where the burden of the disease is heaviest; these are Algeria, Botswana, Cape Verde, Comoros, South Africa and Swaziland.

In South Africa the elimination of malaria is a public health objective.

The country registered 11,700 cases of the disease in 2014, down from 64,000 in 2000, with most diagnoses coming from areas bordering Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

Nine out of 10 of the 438,000 people who died of malaria last year came from sub-Saharan Africa.