Why in News?
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that China is “malaria-free”.
What is malaria?
- Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. It is preventable and curable.
- Mosquirix is the world’s first licensed malaria vaccine and also the first vaccine licensed for use against a human parasitic disease of any kind.
- Malaria is caused by Plasmodium parasites. The parasites are spread to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes, called “malaria vectors.”
- After entering the human body, parasites initially multiply within the liver cells and then attack the Red Blood Cells (RBCs) resulting in their rupture.
- There are 5 parasite species that cause malaria in humans, and 2 of these species – Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax – pose the greatest threat.
- In 2019, there were an estimated 229 million cases of malaria worldwide.
- The first symptoms – fever, headache, and chills – may be mild and difficult to recognize as malaria.
- If not treated within 24 hours, malaria can progress to severe illness, often leading to death.
- Vector control is the main way to prevent and reduce malaria transmission.
- Insecticide-treated mosquito nets- Sleeping under an insecticide-treated net (ITN) can reduce contact between mosquitoes and humans by providing both a physical barrier and an insecticidal effect.
- Antimalarial drugs– Antimalarial medicines can also be used to prevent malaria.
The latest numbers
- The WHO World Malaria report 2020 said the majority of cases were reported in Africa, while India and Southeast Asia recorded a significant drop.
- Cases in India fell from approximately 20 million to 6 million, according to the 2020 report.
How did China achieve this?
- In the 1980s, China began using insecticide-treated nets widely, distributing 2.4 million nets by 1988.
- WHO credited China’s public health system offering free of charge diagnosis and treatment of malaria in bringing down cases to zero, as well as a “1-3-7 strategy” referring to a one-day deadline to report a malaria diagnosis, confirming a case and determining the spread by the third day, and measures taken to stop the spread by the seventh day, along with continued surveillance in high-risk areas.
Initiatives by WHO
- In 2016, WHO identified a group of 21 countries spanning five regions to scale up efforts to achieve malaria elimination by 2020. Known as the E-2020 initiative, it aimed at achieving zero indigenous cases of malaria within the 2020 timeline.
- 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.
- India is not a part of E-2020 and E-2025
India and malaria
- India is the only highly endemic country which has reported a decline of 17.6% in 2019 as compared to 2018.
- The Annual Parasite Incidence (API, the number of new infections per year per 1000 population) reduced by 18.4% in 2019 as compared to 2018.
- The percentage drop in the malaria cases was 71.8% and deaths were 73.9% between 2000 to 2019.
- Malaria deaths in India declined from about 29,500 in 2000 to about 7,700 in 2019.
- India, however, still accounted for 88 per cent of malaria cases and 86 percent of malaria deaths in the WHO South-East Asia Region in 2019.
- India achieved a reduction of 83.34% in malaria morbidity and 92% in malaria mortality between the year 2000 and 2019, thereby achieving Goal 6 of the Millennium Development Goals.
- In 2016, the National Framework for Malaria Elimination (NFME) by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare was started. NFME is in line with WHO’s Global Technical Strategy for Malaria, 2016-2030, which guides the WHO Global Malaria Programme (GMP), responsible for coordinating WHO’s global efforts to control and eliminate malaria.
- In 2017, the National Strategic Plan for Malaria Elimination (2017-22) was released, outlining strategies for the next five years. It gives year-by-year elimination targets in various sections of the country, based on malaria endemicity.
- In 2019, four states (West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh) began implementing the High Burden to High Impact (HBHI) initiative. The distribution of Long-Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs) to high-burden areas has resulted in a decrease in endemicity in these normally highly endemic areas.
- The Malaria Elimination Research Alliance-India (MERA-India) was founded by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), which is a consortium of malaria control partners.