· In 2005, there were over 1.8 million Microscopically Diagnosed Positives (MDP) cases of malaria in India and 963 reported deaths caused by the disease. The actual number of cases taking into account those undiagnosed is likely to be substantial.
· While funding commitments for malaria control increased markedly from $0.3 billion in 2003 to $1.7 billion in 2009, this is still way short of the $5 billion needed annually.
· Around 80 percent of external funds go to Africa. Southeast Asia saw the least money per person at risk for malaria and the smallest increase between 2000 and 2007.
· Funds are disproportionately concentrated on smaller countries with lower disease burdens. Large countries like India and China Countries are particularly disadvantaged with respect to receipt of external assistance partly because the populations at risk are estimated less precisely.
· The progress of India in reducing the number of malaria cases between 2000 and 2008 is greater than 25 percent but is way behind countries like Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan that have achived more than 50 percent reduction.
Source: World Health Organization (WHO)WHO, Malaria Report, 2009 http://www.searo.who.int/LinkFiles/Malaria_Profile_India.pdf
Half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria, and an estimated 243 million cases led to an estimated 863, 000 deaths in 2008. There are, today, tools with which a malaria diagnosis can be made even at the community level, and very effective medicines for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria. Despite this, Malaria continues to inflict suffering on a huge number of people.
India initiated the Integrated Disease Vector Control Project in the early 1980s under Science and Technology Mission. The project was assigned to be implemented by the Malaria Research Centre, now renamed as the National Institute of Malaria Research (NIMR). Currently malaria control heavily relies on the integrated methods that include mass production and distribution of larvivorous fishes, insecticide-treated bed nets, bio-larvicides, repellents, mosquito proofing of water storage and water harvesting structures, management of malaria in pregnancy etc. These are complemented by scientific research on health impact assessment, clinical trial of new drugs and combinations and such measures as amendment of urban by-laws, health education programs. http://www.mrcindia.org/idvc-profile/m.pdf
Unfortunately, like many other diseases, the burden on the poor is the most. Given that Malaria is often a problem in concentrated areas and the cost of intervention is low, it is easier to intervene in terms of programs (though often the terrains are difficult). While there might be low external funding, India should be able to mobilize and use its domestic finances to fund the program. Unless it is prioritized, Malaria eradication would remain a distant dream and would continue to cause avoidable suffering.
Is Malaria control and prevention high on the government’s agenda?