Featured image by Sia Kambou|Getty Images (Cape Verde team members celebrate win over Ghana at AFCON 2023).

Before this year’s AFCON tournament even started, the entire African continent had a big win to celebrate. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently certified Cape Verde as a malaria-free country. For those wondering how this news relates to football, keep reading.
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AFCON 2023 malaria-free agenda

Côte d’Ivoire plans to welcome 1.5 million visitors to its stadium during the AFCON tournament, and its Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene is taking advantage of this attention. It has partnered with anti-malaria organizations RBM Partnership to End Malaria and Zero Malaria FC. The ministry hopes these two organizations will help it shed light on the burden malaria has placed on Africa and, most importantly, prove that malaria doesn’t have to exist.

On its website, RBM Partnership to End Malaria shared that Africa was home to 94% of malaria cases (233 million) and 95% (580,000) of malaria deaths in 2022. This is a heartbreaking number attached to a disease that has already been eliminated in many countries.

What is the WHO malaria-free certificate?

With Cape Verde being a newly WHO certified malaria-free country, it joins Algeria and Mauritius. These three are the only African countries on the list of 43 nations and 1 territory.

In order to be certified malaria-free, a country must provide WHO with irrefutable evidence. First, it must show that the malaria transmitted by Anopheles mosquitoes has been interrupted for the last three consecutive-years. Then the country has to prove it can prevent the disease from returning. This is a great accomplishment for Cape Verde, whose team already beat Ghana in match day one and is playing against Mozambique today.

Malaria’s affect on Liberia

When it comes to Liberia, malaria remains a primary issue. In 2022, the Ministry of Health published a press release which stated, “despite advances, malaria remains Liberia’s most serious public health problem and the leading cause of child fatalities.” But it doesn’t have to be this way — Cape Verde, Algeria, and Mauritius have proven it.

RBM Partnership to End Malaria, Zero Malaria FC, and Côte d’Ivoire hopes Africans around the world will commit to zero malaria — #ZeroPaluJeMengage.