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Malaria: Initiative by WHO & Initiatives by India

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Malaria: Initiative by WHO & Initiatives by India

Malaria is a life-threatening mosquito-borne infectious disease that affects humans and other animals. It spread through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.

Key Points:

  • Causes: Plasmodium spread by mosquitoes
  • Symptoms: Fever, vomiting, headache, yellow skin
  • Complications: Seizures, coma, and death
  • Prevention: Mosquito nets, insect repellent, mosquito control, and vaccine
  • Vaccine: RTS,S (branded as Mosquirix, developed by GlaxoSmithKline, approved by European Medicines Agency in 2015)
  • Regions: Predominantly found in Africa, South America, and Asia.

WHO’s initiative towards malaria elimination

E-2020 initiative

  • In 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) identified a group of 21 countries spanning five regions to scale up efforts to achieve malaria elimination by 2020. 
  • E-2020 initiative was launched in the year 2017 with an aim of achieving zero indigenous cases of malaria within the 2020 timeline. 
  • Countries were identified by WHO across three key criteria:
    • Trends in malaria case incidence between 2000 and 2014.
    • Declared malaria objectives of affected countries.
    • Opinions of WHO experts on the subject.

E-2025 initiative

  • On 21 April 2021, ahead of World Malaria Day, WHO launched the E-2025 initiative to halt the transmission of malaria in 25 identified countries by 2025. It is built on the foundation of the E-2020 initiative. 
  • Countries were identified by WHO across four key criteria:
    • The establishment of a government-endorsed elimination plan.
    • Meeting a defined threshold of malaria case reductions in recent years.
    • A designated governmental agency for malaria elimination and the capacity to confirm 100% of suspected malaria cases in a laboratory.
    • Selected by the Malaria Elimination Oversight Committee.

India's initiatives towards malaria elimination

  • National Framework for Malaria Elimination in India (2016-2030): It aims to eliminate malaria nationally and contribute to improved health, quality of life and alleviation of poverty.
  • National Strategic Plan for malaria elimination (2017-2020): Under the plan, the country has been stratified into four categories based on the malaria burden – category 0 to category 3 and have different targets for each category.
  • National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP): It was launched in 2003-04 by merging the National anti-malaria control programme, National Filaria Control Programme and Kala Azar Control programmes.
  • Malaria Elimination Research Alliance-India (MERA-India): It was launched by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). It is a conglomeration of partners working on malaria control. The aim is to harness and reinforce research in a coordinated way in order to achieve a tangible impact on malaria elimination.

India’s Achievement:

  • Since 2000, India has cut malaria cases by more than half and the number of malaria deaths by more than two-thirds.
  • According to the WHO World Malaria Report 2019, as one of only two top 11 highest malaria burden countries to reduce malaria cases between 2017 and 2018, India registered a remarkable 28% decrease in malaria cases and a 41% decrease in malaria-related deaths. This is in addition to a 24% decline in malaria cases between 2016 and 2017.
  • In 2019, the Government of India increased funding by more than 25% for the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme and increased support as a donor to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Challenges in eliminating Malaria from India:

  • Porous borders and migrant movement: The North-eastern states share their border with neighbouring countries such as Myanmar and Bangladesh where malaria is still prevalent and there is a persistent threat of an influx of malaria cases from these countries.
  • Prevalence of Urban Malaria: Increased population pressure, insufficient capacity of the civic bodies to deal with water supply, and sewage and solid waste disposal have led to increased transmission of malaria in urban areas.
  • Weak surveillance system: A key impediment to eliminating malaria is a weak surveillance system. India and Nigeria, two major contributors to the global burden of malaria, were able to detect only 8% and 16% of cases, respectively, via the system.
  • More Plasmodium vivax cases: Nearly half of plasmodium vivax cases were traced in India. This could at least be partially explained by resistance to chloroquine, the first-line treatment to p. vivax infections, that have been detected in pockets of the country earlier this decade.