A recent study by the World Health Organization has shown that 80% of India’s reported malaria cases come from states, which hold up to 20% of its population. The country has made some strides into addressing the disease. Studies show that the number of citizens affected by the disease has gone down from 2 million in 2000 to 8,82,000 in 2013.

“We are committed to achieving the target of elimination of malaria by 2030, which will require huge financial resources. We will effectively work with the development partners and civil society,”

JP Nadda, Union Health Minister, NDTV

WHO defines eradication as the interruption of local transmission of a specified malaria parasite in a defined geographical area as a result of deliberate efforts. There are 4 stages in the process of eliminating a disease: Control, pre-elimination, elimination and prevention of re-introduction. India is now in the control stage and looking to reach the pre-elimination stage by 2017.

“The success of our programme is a result of our implementation of all the World Health Organization’s recommended tools to defeat malaria,”

says Dr A C Dhariwal, Director of India’s National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme.

“Through rapid diagnostic tests, artemisinin-based combination therapy, long lasting insecticidal nets and indoor residual spraying, we’ve been able to bring down the rates of malaria and reduce the number of deaths.”

India’s Ministry Of Health and Family Welfare had trained over 900,000 female volunteers since 2005 and have deployed them to every village with a population of above 1000 citizens. According to Dr. Dhariwal, accredited social health activists are trained to perform rapid diagnostic tests and administer artemisinin-based treatments. The community knows to call her when they have a fever, and she is responsible for walking door-to-door to screen and monitor the health of her village.

Adding to this a strong anti-malaria campaign, access to diagnostic tests and use of artemisinin-based combination therapies have really helped in curbing the spread of the disease. In order for the country to halt the risk of transmission to less than one person per thousand, states in the North and North-East which have been hit the hardest will be targeted the most.

To reach the desired numbers for pre-elimination, an annual parasite incidence (API) of less that 1 per 1000 for all states and districts within the states must be achieved. As of now, 74% of Indian districts have achieved this. India has also promised to contribute towards the task of making the entire Asia-Pacific area free from malaria and is participating with the Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance. The National Vector Borne Disease Control Program has paired with the Indian Medical Association and now more than 250,000 Indian doctors are taught to follow common guidelines for preventing and treating malaria.

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