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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

Biden announces small business tax credits for vaccine PTO

President Biden in the Oval Office. Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden on Wednesday will call on all employers to provide employees paid time off to get vaccinated or to recover from any side effects, and will include a paid tax credit for small businesses to do so, administration officials said.

Why it matters: The administration sees places of work as highly influential in making shots more convenient for working adults who are in high-risk industries.

White House unveils plans for high-profile climate summit

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Biden administration offered new details this morning about the big, virtual climate summit Thursday and Friday and signaled they expect new emissions reduction and climate finance commitments from multiple countries.

Driving the news: The administration said 40 heads of state would attend, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil.

DOJ announces sweeping probe into Minneapolis policing practices

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday announced that the Justice Department will open a sweeping investigation into whether the Minneapolis Police Department has a "pattern or practice" of discriminatory policing practices.

Why it matters: The federal probe, which will also examine MPD's handling of misconduct allegations against officers, could result in significant changes to policing in Minneapolis in the wake of George Floyd's murder.