~India aims to eliminate malaria by 2030~
New Delhi, April 24, 2020 – Ahead of World Malaria Day, Malaria No More lauds India’s efforts and consistent progress for working towards a malaria free India. Since India is highly endemic to the vector borne disease, the Central and State Governments have been dedicated in collaboratively curbing the number of cases thereby reducing the adverse socio-economic impact on the vulnerable sections .
For two years running, the World Health Organization’s World Malaria Report highlighted India as the only one of 10 countries with the highest burden of malaria globally to have made significant and consistent progress against malaria. Since Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s declaration in 2015 to eliminate malaria from the country by 2030, India has reduced malaria cases by more than 50%, according to data on malaria by the National Vector Borne Disease Control Program (NVBDCP). The Government also ramped up funding for the National Vector Borne Disease Control Program – department overseeing India’s malaria program (among other vector borne diseases) – by 43% from 2016 – 2019.
However, these gains are at risk with COVID-19 potentially impacting access to essential health services that protect the most vulnerable from other infectious diseases like malaria. Based on a new analysis released yesterday the World Health Organization (WHO), and partners urged malaria-affected countries to ensure the continuity of malaria services, particularly ahead of the rainy season.
For high-burden Indian states like Odisha, success resulted from bridging intensified routine efforts like Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLIN) distributions, with data-driven strategies by the state government to diagnose and treat malaria in the highest-burden villages in remote, inaccessible areas before each monsoon season. Pausing these efforts due to COVID-19 threatens the greater than 80% decrease of cases achieved within just two years.
Highlighting key factors, that will strengthen India’s malaria elimination programme, Dr. Sanjeev Gaikwad, Country Director, Malaria No More India, said “India has proved its dedication to end malaria, reflected through the diverse involvement in malaria programs of political, government leadership, community leaders, civil society etc. However, some areas of concerns still remain to be pressing, such as data on malaria from the private hospitals/establishments, timely replenishment of LLINs and strategic funding and involvement of the private sector etc. Active focus on these areas will make India’s malaria program even more robust and will bring us closer to our goal to eliminate malaria by 2030.”
Furthermore, protecting India’s progress and reducing additional strain on India’s health care system is critical, as the country nears monsoon. Ensuring our healthcare force is protected and able to safely conduct malaria prevention and treatment programs will reduce the potential for malaria cases turning severe, which could lead to hospitalization and potentially death.
However, timely interventions can be useful in maintaining control.
Speaking on the concerns, Dr. Gaikwad said “Due to the lockdown, movement of health workers and ASHAs in mostly rural and tribal areas has stopped, impacting active surveillance and direct interaction with families at risk. However, insecticide-treated mosquito nets (LLINs) have already been distributed and all preparations for the pre-monsoon intensification of anti-malaria activities in states like Odisha are in place. If these activities could start immediately after the lockdown is lifted and before the onset of monsoon rains in early June, India’s progress against malaria can be maintained.”
In addition, Indians can take action to protect themselves, their families and communities from malaria. This includes sleeping under a bed net and, if someone living in a place known to have malaria develops a fever, he or she should safely seek diagnosis and care as soon as possible.
While India maintains a steady year on year decline in malaria cases, it still carried a significant share in the global malaria burden for a developing economy. India, along with nineteen countries in sub-Saharan Africa accounted for almost 85% of the global malaria burden – including deaths due to malaria. Even as erstwhile malaria endemic states in the country such as Odisha reported significant progress in reducing malaria cases, emergence of newer hotspots in states like Uttar Pradesh is a point of concern. These new hotspots highlight worry about the sustenance of India’s malaria program, and raise the need for recalibrating strategies accordingly, especially in the face of COVID-19.
About Malaria No More India
Malaria No More India is a non-profit organisation working to support India’s 2030 malaria elimination goal. Since the past two years MNM India has been working both at national level and in India’s once highest malaria endemic state, Odisha. At the national level MNM India has supported development of National Social and Behavior Change Communication Strategy and working in Odisha through a Strategic Support Unit that provides techno managerial support to the malaria programme in the state.
For more information please contact:
Ms. Manisha Gautam, Communications Lead, Malaria No More India
Contact number: +91 97176 20411