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Experts deliberate on True Burden of Malaria in India

Experts deliberate on True Burden of Malaria in India


Experts deliberate on True Burden of Malaria in India

Following the launch of report titled ‘India’s March Towards Malaria Elimination’, Malaria No More host its second panel discussion ‘Exploring the true burden of Malaria in India’. The panel discussion is part of a series of discussions under the advocacy campaign, titled, “India’s march towards malaria elimination, 2021.

The panel discussed the hidden burden of asymptomatic malaria, need for research and development for improved Malaria testing, strategic application of technologies to detect the hidden burdens and role of policymakers. They also addressed the challenges and potential solutions to reduce the true burden of Malaria in India. The panel was chaired by Shri K. J. Alphons IAS, Honorable Member of Parliament and moderated by Mr. Pratik Kumar, Senior Advisor of Malaria No More. The panel included participation from Dr. Ajit Kumar Mohanty, Special Secretary, Department of Health Government of Odisha, Dr. Susanta Ghosh, Scientist, ICMR- National Institute of Malaria Research, Dr. Arun Gupta, President, Delhi Medical Council, Dr. Rajiv Tandon, Director, Health, RTI International, and Dr. Kaushik Sarkar, Interim India Country Director, Malaria No More.

Emphasizing the true burden of Malaria on the policymakers of India, Shri K. J. Alphons IAS, Honorable Member of Parliament, says, “We are in the last leg and need to reach zero Malaria cases by 2027 to reach our goal of Malaria Elimination by 2030. However, today we are faced with the inherent problem of under-reporting. Our focus needs to be on getting our numbers right and bringing together the needed resources to accelerate the entire process of malaria elimination. Along with elimination of poverty, we need to eliminate fundamental health issues like malaria.”

Commenting on addressing the hidden burden caused by asymptomatic malaria in Odisha, Dr. Ajit Kumar Mohanty, Special Secretary, Department of Health Government of Odisha says, “In 2016, Odisha shared 40% of India’s malaria load. Today, by engaging government resources, informal private sector stakeholders and innovative solutions we have achieved 90% reduction. Now our main focus is on small clusters through micro targeting. Working with Malaria No More we recently collaborated with IMD to map all metrological data for last 5-10 years to predict malaria and actively address elimination. We have come a long way and need interdepartmental coordination and support from the private and public sector as well as community participation to succeed on our path of malaria elimination.”

Addressing the usage of technology and data for malaria elimination, and Dr. Kaushik Sarkar, Interim India Country Director, Malaria No More says, “Policy level decisions are made based on experiences, there is a need to support policy makers with tools such as dashboards and algorithms. The path of malaria elimination lacks data support and tools. We need to focus on existing technology and that which is in the pipeline for maximum efficient outcomes as we enter the end game. There is a need to involve the private sector to overcome technology gaps and challenges.”

Dr. Rajiv Tandon, Director, Health, RTI International while speaking about efficient implementation of malaria elimination strategies says, “India is focusing on COVID, however COVID has an abundance of resources at this moment. We need to ensure that we do not remove focus from other important health issues as well, for fear of receding progress that we have achieved in addressing such issues. In order to realize complete Malaria elimination, we have an imminent need to adopt a formalized system, like was done in the case of Polio eradication, to ensure an organized and systematic approach. Furthermore, we have a need to implement a stronger incentive-based solution for ASHA workers to instil ardent commitment from them for malaria testing and treatment to allow us to achieve our goal of complete malaria elimination”

In 2015, India laid out a 15-years roadmap to achieve malaria elimination in a phased approach in its National Framework for Malaria Elimination. As per 2022 goals, India aims to have zero malaria cases in Category 1 and 2 states. Today, India has achieved 89% and 68% reduction in Category 1 and 2 states respectively.

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The World Health Organization estimated 5.6 million malaria cases occurring in India in 2019. Only 0.3 million cases were reported. India must overcome the challenges of private sector non-reporting and asymptomatic malaria and expand the overall surveillance net.

As the COVID19 pandemic threatens to thwart the global progress against some of the longest-standing diseases like malaria, India must sustain its commitment and redefine its strategies in surveillance, case management, and vector control in view of the newer challenges to meet the 2030 deadline.

About Malaria No More India

Malaria No More (MNM) envisions a world where no one dies from a mosquito bite. To support India’s historic drive to eliminate malaria by 2030, MNM India is working with partners at the national level to mobilize the necessary political will, funding and innovation. MNM India’s Strategic Support Unit also works at the state level, providing technical management support to the malaria programme in Odisha, once India’s state with the highest burden of malaria.

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