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A truck spraying mosquito repellent in San Salvador in August 2020. Photo: Camilo Freedman/APHOTOGRAFIA/Getty Images

El Salvador on Thursday became the first country in Central America to be certified malaria-free by the World Health Organization.

Why it matters: It's the 38th country to eliminate the parasitic disease that has plagued humanity for ages.

What they're saying: “Malaria has afflicted humankind for millennia, but countries like El Salvador are living proof and inspiration for all countries that we can dare to dream of a malaria-free future,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

  • “The people and the government of El Salvador, together with its health workers, have fought for decades against malaria," Dr. Francisco José Alabi Montoya, the country's health minister, said.

The big picture: The WHO grants a country a certification of malaria elimination when it has proven, beyond reasonable doubt, that the chain of indigenous
mosquito transmission has been interrupted nationwide for at least the previous three consecutive years.

  • Between 1990 and 2010, the number of malaria cases in El Salvador declined from more than 9,000 to 26.
  • The country has reported no indigenous cases of the disease since 2017, according to the WHO.

Malaria still afflicts millions of people around the world every year.

  • The disease infected 228 million people and killed an estimated 405,000 in 2018, according to WHO records.
  • The WHO warned in 2020 that the coronavirus pandemic may exacerbate malaria deaths in some parts of the world.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Technology

Instagram's boss faces Congress' questions on harm to teens

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for WIRED

The head of Instagram will find himself in Congress' crosshairs for the first time Wednesday in the one area lawmakers have shown they are willing to pass tech regulations — protecting youngsters online.

Why it matters: Republicans and Democrats have found common ground in grilling tech companies on how their products harm children, especially after revelations in The Wall Street Journal about Instagram's potential harm to the mental health of teen girls.

Jan. 6 committee to start contempt proceedings against Meadows

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The Jan. 6 select committee plans to move forward with contempt proceedings against former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows for his refusal to comply with the panel's subpoena.

Why it matters: The committee has used the threat of contempt — and the associated financial and reputational costs — to try to ensure evasive witnesses sit for their depositions.

Complaint to FTC: Amazon search results full of potentially deceiving ads

Photo: Nigel Kirby/Loop Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Amazon does not sufficiently distinguish between its search results and paid ads, potentially "deceiving millions of consumers," according to a complaint filed to the Federal Trade Commission.

Why it matters: Joan Moriarty, research director for the Strategic Organizing Center, a coalition of labor unions that filed the complaint, told the Washington Post the group is "very hopeful" that the FTC will investigate the complaint because Lina Khan (D), a known Amazon critic, is now chair.