According to the World Malaria Report 2016, India contributed 89% of the incidence of malaria in the South-East Asia region. As per the provisional epidemiological report 2016, there were over 10 lakh positive cases in India’s 36 states and UTs, which caused 331 deaths. The Indian record stands in sharp contrast to some of its neighbours — the Maldives was certified malaria-free in 2015, and Sri Lanka followed last year.
The Health Ministry has now released its vision for ridding the country of malaria by 2027, and of eliminating the disease by 2030. To be declared malaria-free, a country has to report zero incidence for at least three years. The ambitious National Strategic Plan (NSP) for Malaria Elimination (2017-22) was launched.
What is this plan to eradicate malaria?
The plan is to eliminate malaria (zero indigenous cases) by 2022 in all Category 1 and 2 districts.
The remaining districts are to be brought under a pre-elimination and elimination programme.
The NSP also aims to maintain a malaria-free status for areas where transmission has been interrupted.
It seeks to achieve universal case detection and treatment services in endemic districts to ensure 100% diagnosis of all suspected cases, and full treatment of all confirmed cases.
The plan has four components, based on WHO recommendations: diagnosis and case management; surveillance and epidemic response; prevention — integrated vector management; ‘cross-cutting’ interventions, which include advocacy, communication, research and development, and other initiatives.
There are 660 reporting districts, which, along with another 18 reporting units, make up a total of 678 reporting units.
Which states have the highest incidence of malaria?
In India, malaria is caused by the parasites Plasmodium falciparum (Pf) and Plasmodium Vivax (Pv).
Pf is found more in the forest areas, whereas Pv is more common in the plains.
The disease is mainly concentrated in the tribal and remote areas of the country.
The majority of reporting districts are in the country’seastern and central parts — the largest number of cases are found in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and the Northeastern states of Tripura, Mizoram and Meghalaya.
What kind of challenges is the NSP likely to face?
One of the biggest challenges is the shortage of manpower.
Other problems include access to conflict-affected tribal areas, and to areas with a high malaria endemicity and insecticide resistance.
Why is this plan significant?
For the first time, the union Health Ministry has come up with a roadmap for elimination of malaria in the country.
Before this, the effort was to “control” malaria under the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme.
The NSP is a detailed strategy with operational guidelines for Programme Officers of all states towards set targets.
“Several countries have eliminated malaria… it is possible in India too, but meeting the 2027 deadline is an uphill task. There is need for a focused approach and strong political and administrative commitment.