Malaria is still one of the three leading causes of death in developing countries: WHO
Experts estimate that 40 per cent of the world’s population is at risk.
Two-thirds of malaria deaths are children under the age of five.
Africa is home to 70 per cent of the world’s malaria cases and 90 per cent of deaths.
In the 1930s, malaria claimed over five million lives and spread throughout the world taking more lives. A breakthrough was achieved in mid-1970s when the World Health Organization (WHO) initiated a massive spraying campaign using the now banned DDT insecticide.
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Malaria is still one of the three leading causes of death in developing countries.
Experts estimate that 40 per cent of the world’s population is at risk, and two-thirds of malaria deaths are children under the age of five. Africa is home to 70 per cent of the world’s malaria cases and 90 per cent of deaths.
According to WHO’s latest World Malaria report, no significant gains were made in reducing malaria cases in the period 2015 to 2017. The estimated number of malaria deaths in 2017 at 435,000 remained virtually unchanged over the previous year. The WHO reiterates that urgent action is needed to get the global response to malaria back on track. It added that ownership of the challenge lies in the hands of countries most affected by malaria.
India has made good progress in malaria control in the past two decades. Statistics show that the disease burden has declined by 59 per cent and deaths due to the disease by 89 per cent. The success has led the government to make a commitment to eliminate malaria by 2030.
However, there are several challenges that need to be addressed. There are critical operational gaps in service access, particularly for vulnerable populations in high transmission areas as well as in the services provided by the private sector. There is also a need to improve quality and effectiveness of vector and environmental control measures. Moreover, the emergence and spread of drug and insecticide resistance is undermining the efficacy of existing tools. Thus, the need for new improved tools and approaches for disease surveillance, diagnosis, treatment and vector control.
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The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has come up with a programme to bring various stakeholders on a single platform to identify and prioritize research work needed to meet the target to eliminate the disease by 2030. The programme, ‘Malaria Elimination Research Alliance India’ (MERA India) kicked off on April 24. The Secretary, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Preeti Sudan called for a need for more operational research. She urged the participants to prepare and disseminate short audio and video clips on how people can protect themselves from the disease and help block its transmission.