NEW DELHI: India along with 19 sub-Saharan Africa countries carried almost 85% of the global malaria burden, according to the World malaria report 2019, released by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday.
While India and Africa witnessed the maximum reduction in malaria cases between 2017 and 2018, the report said, they still accounted for 85% deaths. Even though, India was also one of the lowest funding per person at risk of being inflicted with malaria at just $ 0.2, it recorded a reduction of 2.6 million malaria cases in 2018 in comparison to 2017, the report stated.
Showing a declining trend of malaria cases, the report said India showed a reduction in reported cases of around 51% compared to 2017 and of 60% compared to 2016, despite being the highest burden country in South East Asia region.
According to the WHO report, the estimated burden of malaria is 6.7 million. But only 4 million cases were reported in 2018, the report highlighted.
“Although cases continue to decrease in the public sector, estimates indicate that there are still gaps in reporting from the private sector and those seeking treatment in India, as in Myanmar and Indonesia, “the report said.
“ We need to intensify efforts, particularly at the sub-national and grassroots levels, with multi-sectoral collaboration, to strengthen surveillance and reach the most vulnerable and marginalized communities, “said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director WHO South-East Asia.
“Better implementation of treatment regimens, to effectively manage drug resistance and relapsing disease, needs to be focused upon,” she said.
Khetarpal also called for a need to further strengthen cross-border collaboration as malaria free countries would always remain at risk of importation from mainly endemic countries.
“Joint efforts to r apidly detect and respond to importations and prevent and protect vulnerable communities along the borders is vital in our drive to achieve zero malaria and protect everyone everywhere, “she said.
The report highlighted thatPlasmodium falciparum is the most prevalent malaria parasite in the WHO African Region, accounting for 99. 7% of estimated malaria cases in 2018, as well as in the WHO South-East Asia Region ( (%), the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region (%) and the WHO Western Pacific Region (65%).
Globally, 53% of the Plasmodium vivax burden is in the WHO South- East Asia Region, with the majority being in India (47%). P. vivax is the predominant parasite in the WHO Region of the Americas, representing 75% of malaria cases, the report said.
“By aligning all the stakeholders – Government, private sector and citizens – India has increased awareness and combatted the adverse socio-economic impact of malaria, which disproportionately affects the most vulnerable including pregnant women and children under 5, “said Sanjeev Gaikwad, Country Director, Malaria No More India, an NGO working to support India’s 2030 malaria elimination goal.