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India targets Malaria Elimination by 2030, Is it Feasible?

Every new government in India vows to keep Malaria at bay and so is the current government which has launched a National Framework for Malaria Elimination in India 2016-2030 with Health Minister J. P. Nadda reiterating that the country stands committed to “to allocating infrastructure and financial resources to this task.”

The launch announcement was aligned with the 2014 regional pledge by the leaders of 18 Asia-Pacific countries, including India, to eliminate malaria by 2030. The two-day meeting held on 10-11 February 2016 was convened by WHO and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

Aimed at elimination of malaria from India and improving health and quality of life, the meeting focused on discussing strategic framework, innovation and research, health system strengthening, and sharing of experiences for malaria elimination.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr J. P. Nadda said, “This framework has been developed with a vision to eliminate malaria from the country and contribute to improved health and quality of life and alleviation of poverty.” The new framework relies on Indian states to take efforts towards malaria elimination and lays down specific milestones and targets to achieve the same.

“Eliminating malaria is possible with innovative strategies and steadfast resolve. To achieve the framework’s milestones and improve the health and wellbeing of millions of people across the country, the new framework must be supported by all health sector partners, and must be implemented in full. This is an exciting opportunity to make lasting, tangible change, and requires our firm and unwavering commitment,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region.

Speaking at the opening day of the launch of the National Framework for Malaria Elimination in India 2016-2030, Dr Henk Bekedam, WHO Representative to India said, “The commitment of the Government of India to eliminate malaria by endorsing the Global Malaria Technical Strategy 2016-2030 and setting a national malaria elimination target of 2030 is a huge step forward that will have a major regional and global impact.”

In line with the WHO Global Technical Strategy (GTS) for Malaria 2016-2030 and Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance (APLMA) Malaria Elimination Roadmap for the Asia Pacific, the goals of the National Framework for Malaria Elimination in India are to:

  •  Eliminate malaria (zero indigenous cases) throughout the entire country by 2030; and
  •  Maintain malaria free status in areas where malaria transmission has been interrupted and prevent re-introduction of malaria.

The meeting was attended by senior officials from the MoHFW, National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), National Institute of Malaria Research (NIMR), National Health Systems Resource Centre (NHSRC), state program officers (SPOs), state regional directors (RDs) along with experts from Population Foundation of India (PFI), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and other nodal institutes and organizations.

But what lacked was the core focus on extending wider use of nets in rural areas and removal of tax on anti-Malarial sprays. The roadside eateries, constant waste disposal delays including Delhi and Bangalore, irresponsible municipal authorities and local police which allow footpaths occupied by eateries — all account for more than 30% of the country’s core cause for the spread of mosquitoes and malaria in turn. No research outcome has helped to mitigate the problem since the days of chloroquin being widely used as anti-dote to malaria.

With the threat of rejuvenated malaria-borne mosquitoes on prowl, even the threat of encephalitis and Zaki virus infections are posing new threat. Unfortunately, there were about 207 million malaria cases globally in 2012, resulting in over 600 000 deaths.

WHO estimates that India accounts for 75% of all malaria cases in South-East Asia and about 95% of the Indian population resides in malaria endemic areas. Almost 80% of malaria reported in India is from the areas where 20% of population resides – in tribal, hilly, hard-to-reach or inaccessible areas.

malaria eradication

India wants to eradicate malaria by 2030. (WHO Photo)

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