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WORLD MALARIA REPORT: INDIA SUSTAINS ITS CONTINUED PROGRESS AGAINST MALARIA OVER TWO DECADES DRIVING A 21 PERCENT REDUCTION IN MALARIA CASES IN 2019


India contributed to the largest absolute reductions in the World Health Organization’s South-East Asia

New Delhi, November 30, 2020 – Malaria No More India lauds India’s continued efforts to reduce malaria over almost two decades, with significant additional reductions between 2018 and 2019, as reflected in the 2020 World Malaria Report released today by the World Health Organization (WHO). 

The World Malaria Report (WMR) tracks annual global progress against malaria cases and deaths. This year’s report estimates changes in the global malaria burden between 2018 and 2019, with a special feature on progress made over the past 20 years. The 2020 report estimates that India reduced malaria cases by 21 percent from 2018 to 2019, and called out India’s success for contributing to the largest absolute drop in malaria cases in the South-East Asia region since 2000. It further stated that India’s progress against malaria over the 2000-2019 period – nearly 78 percent reduction in malaria cases – helped put countries in the WHO South-East Asia region on target for malaria elimination by 2030[1].

Despite this progress, the WMR warns of the potential impact that the COVID-19 pandemic can have on efforts to further reduce the malaria burden – by disrupting timely access to life-saving malaria treatments – which could lead to an increase in malaria deaths.

Sharing his views on India’s progress, Dr. Sanjeev Gaikwad, Country Director, Malaria No More India said, “India has come a long way in bolstering its fight against malaria and it shows that with its year-on-year reduction in malaria cases and deaths. The COVID-19 pandemic adding to the healthcare burden reminds us of the importance of ending malaria and enabling countries to turn their attention to other diseases and emerging threats.”

India’s sustained success in fighting malaria 

Since 2000, India has successfully reduced the number of malaria cases by more than half and the number of malaria deaths by more than two-thirds, driving progress toward achieving the Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pledge to end malaria in India and the Asia Pacific region by 2030. Since 2017-18, India has more than doubled the budget allocated for the National Vector borne disease control program (NVBDCP) – apex department for malaria and mosquito-borne disease in India – with an increase of 90% in 2018-19 and a further 25% increase in 2019-20, for Malaria elimination.

The state of Odisha has played a robust role in India’s success in the last several years. In high burden states such as Odisha, success is the result of stepped up efforts by the state government, including use of innovative strategies and scaled up distribution of long-lasting insecticide nets and rapid diagnostic tests to reduce malaria cases and deaths. In 2017, the government launched ‘Durgama Anchalare Malaria Nirakaran’ (DAMaN), an innovative programme that delivered population-wide malaria testing and treatment services to the state’s most inaccessible people at greatest risk of malaria. These strategies and efforts have worked very well in the state and since 2017-2018; till date Odisha has driven down malaria cases and deaths by more than 90%.

Despite India’s progress, it still contributes significantly to the global malaria burden. India is among the 11 highest malaria burden countries in the world – and the only one outside of Africa – that collectively contribute about 70% of the world’s malaria cases and deaths.[2] The WMR also reported that India continues to be the largest contributor of malaria cases in the WHO’s South-East Asia Region – reporting about 88 percent of malaria cases and carrying 86 percent of malaria deaths in the region – in 2019.[3]

Since 2018, India has been involved in the High Burden High Impact (HBHI) initiative launched by the World Health Organization and the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, to reignite progress against malaria. The HBHI is helping the 11 countries (10 African nations + India) to reduce their malaria burden through the help of a four part strategy: 1)galvanizing political will nationally and globally to reduce malaria deaths; 2) using strategic information to drive impact; 3) implementing best global guidance, policies and strategies suitable for all malaria endemic countries; and, 4) applying a coordinated country response.

COVID-19 Impact

The global response to COVID-19 has reinforced the critical importance of timely, accurate data; and reiterated the significance of localized approaches for effectively fighting an infectious disease. This is equally important for malaria, a preventable and treatable infectious disease. Being able to innovate and adapt approaches in real-time ensures maximum impact of limited resources, particularly during COVID. Malaria No More calls on the Indian government, partners and the private sector to continue sustaining efforts against malaria – even while fighting COVID – that will protect the significant gains made, particularly in the last few years, and accelerate progress toward elimination. Furthering reductions in malaria cases also helps countries be better positioned to deal with COVID and other future public-health threats.

Awareness Campaign Helps Fight Malaria in the Face of COVID-19  

Earlier this year, in an effort to prompt urgent action to protect Indians from malaria and other preventable mosquito-borne diseases – even during the pandemic – Malaria No More India launched ‘Bite Ko mat lo light’ with partners Times Bridge, Facebook, Star India, WPP and Sony Pictures Networks India. The campaign called Indians to action — across digital and traditional media – to prevent getting infected and urge them to safely seek timely malaria testing and treatment. Till date, the campaign has reached more than 120 million people in the 21 most malaria affected states in India. To learn what Indians can do to protect themselves from malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases, please go to www.bitekomatlolight.com.

“We are supporting the Indian government’s goal in working towards malaria elimination by 2030, and the awareness campaign and discussions on policy related issues are aimed at closing awareness gaps and prompting action which will further strengthen India’s fight against malaria. Stakeholder collaboration is the key to achieve the target of eliminating malaria by 2030,” said Dr. Gaikwad.

[1] WMR(V4) Page 241 – Annex 3 reported malaria cases (2010-2019)

[2] WMR Page 13

[3] WMR Global trends in the Burden of Malaria (3.3)

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About Malaria No More India

Led by an experienced Indian team in Delhi and Bhubaneswar, Malaria No More’s work in India began in 2016 after an extensive landscape evaluation to inform how to best tailor the program. In 2018, Malaria No More India began implementing a five-year strategy to demonstrate and document innovations impacting the malaria fight; work with a diverse set of partners to launch a mosquito-borne disease awareness campaign; and, mobilize the political will and resources needed to support India’s 2030 malaria-free goal.

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. Launched at the White House Summit on Malaria in 2006, Malaria No More mobilizes the political commitment, funding and innovation needed to end malaria within our generation.

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Malaria No More India 
Ms. Manisha Gautam
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Email id:  manisha.gautam@malarianomore.org

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