Joint WHO–ECDC mission related to local malaria transmission in Greece, 2012

Mission report

Locally acquired cases of malaria have been occurring in Greece since 2009, with the highest numbers reported in 2011. In 2012, local malaria transmission was still ongoing, but fewer cases were reported. Within this context, a joint WHO-ECDC mission was conducted to aid the Greek authorities in their efforts to respond to the challenge of malaria and support preventive activities for the control of malaria in the country.

Executive summary

When Greece last year reported locally acquired cases of malaria for the fourth consecutive season, ECDC and WHO experts on mosquito-borne diseases were invited to Greece to assist health authorities in their efforts to ‘respond to the challenge of malaria’ and support ‘preventive activities for the control of malaria in the country’.

Although most malaria cases diagnosed in Greece were acquired abroad (60, as of 26 October 2012), an additional 16 cases were in patients with no history of travel to a malaria-endemic country.

The Greek health authorities took swift action to prevent the re-emergence of this once extinct disease by implementing a number of measures, based on an Action plan for malaria (soon to be a National Action Plan) which emphasises the necessity to enhance the epidemiological surveillance of malaria, to increase the capacity of laboratory diagnostic facilities for malaria in Greece, to standardise the national policy for the treatment of malaria, and to improve intersectoral collaboration on malaria control and prevention.

During their three-day stay, the WHO–ECDC team provided the Greek authorities with a concise list of ‘recommendations and further steps’, ranging from outbreak containment measures to disease surveillance.

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