Seattle, November 21, 2018 - According to the new WHO World Malaria Report 2018, India registered a 24% decrease in malaria cases in 2017 compared to 2016. This makes India the only country among the 11 highest-burden countries to mark progress in reducing cases of malaria during this timeframe.
“India is showing the way in the global fight against malaria by delivering essential malaria services via a vast network of front-line health workers,” said Martin Edlund, CEO of Malaria No More. ”The progress is particularly striking in the highly malaria-affected state of Odisha, where the government is providing innovative testing and treatment approaches to the most rural and remote populations.”
In 2015, Prime Minister Modi, along with 17 other leaders in the region, set the goal of eliminating malaria from Asia Pacific by 2030. By leading the world in malaria case reductions, India no longer ranks among the top 3 countries with the highest malaria burdens (falling to number four). However, 1.25 billion Indians remain at risk of malaria and India still accounts for the majority of cases in the region.
India also stands as a critical bulwark against drug-resistant strains of malaria currently spreading across Southeast Asia. As the world’s leading producer of anti-malarial drugs, India has a critical leadership role to play in advancing global efforts to save lives and end malaria.
Odisha: Leading the way in India’s fight against malaria
Odisha, India’s highest burden state, is setting the pace of success in India’s drive to eliminate malaria by 2030. Through innovations, such as expanding access to diagnostics and treatment, strengthening data collection and improving health care worker skills, Odisha is doing what it takes to fight this preventable, but deadly disease.
In recent years, the Government of Odisha dramatically scaled up efforts to diagnose and treat malaria through its DAMaN initiative, which stands for Durgama Anchalare Malaria Nirakaran, or “Malaria Control in Inaccessible Areas.” The program includes village-wide testing and treatment campaigns (along with malnutrition and other services) to substantially reduce parasite levels before the monsoon season causes mosquitoes and malaria to proliferate.
In 2017, with support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Accredited Social Health Activists (or ASHAs) with support from Gram Kalyan Samitis (GKS) distributed more than 11 million long lasting insecticidal nets – enough to protect all residents in those areas of Odisha at highest risk for malaria.
Through sustained efforts, Odisha recorded a remarkable decline of over 80% in reported malaria cases and deaths. Reported malaria cases declined from 323,800 in 2017 (January - September) to 55,365 in 2018 (January - September) and deaths dropped to single digits during the same period.
“Odisha demonstrates that the combination of political will, technical leadership, and innovative use of malaria prevention and control tools can reap big gains against malaria in a very short time,” Edlund said. ”It bolsters the case that – with the same mix of innovation – India can indeed achieve its ambitious goal to be malaria-free within ten years.”
Malaria No More partnering with India
In 2016, Malaria No More (MNM) began working to support India’s goal of eliminating malaria by 2030. MNM is working to support high-burden Indian states to reduce malaria cases and deaths using innovative strategies, better data, and new technologies, and with the national government to elevate malaria as a priority health issue and educate the public.
In 2018, MNM signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Odisha to provide technical capacity and support the strengthening of the Government’s globally-acclaimed programme to drive down malaria cases and deaths in Odisha.
MNM is providing technical assistance to the Odisha Vector Borne Disease Control Programme to support overall strategy development; strengthen malaria surveillance and reporting; improve data triangulation and data-driven decision-making , enhance private health sector reporting of malaria; and, create compelling health education and behavior-change campaigns. MNM is also helping the Government to engage a range of technical, academic, private sector, and media partners to support Odisha’s drive toward malaria elimination.
“Malaria was first discovered in India (in 1897), and we are convinced the solutions to ending malaria will be found in India as well,” said Edlund.
Beyond supporting Odisha to strengthen and create a replicable success model for other states, MNM is working with India’s central government to develop the first national mosquito-borne disease education campaign, focusing not only on malaria but dengue and chikungunya.
For more information or interview requests, contact Michal Fishman at +1 504-220-2792 or Michal.Fishman@MalariaNoMore.org
About Malaria No More
Malaria No More envisions a world where no one dies from a mosquito bite. More than a decade into our mission, our work has contributed to historic progress toward this goal. Now, we’re mobilizing the political commitment, funding, and innovation required to achieve what would be one of the greatest humanitarian accomplishments – ending malaria within our generation. Malaria No More has offices in the United States, Cameroon, Kenya and India and affiliates in Japan and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit www.malarianomore.org