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India records largest reductions in malaria cases in South-East Asia, says WHO

1st December, 2020 Health

Context: India made impressive gains in the global fight against malaria, recording the largest reduction in cases in South-East Asia from 20 million in 2000 to about 5.6 million last year, according to the World Health Organisation.

The World Malaria Report 2020,

  • Finds that in 2019, malaria cases globally numbered about 229 million, an annual estimate that has remained virtually unchanged over the last four years.
  • Last year, the disease claimed about 4,09,000 lives, compared to 4,11,000 in 2018.
  • Countries in South-East Asia made particularly strong progress, with reductions in cases and deaths of 73% and 74%, respectively.
  • India contributed to the largest drop in cases region-wide — from approximately 20 million to about 6 million.
  • The report said that the WHO South-East Asia Region accounted for about 3% of the burden of malaria cases globally.
  • Malaria cases reduced by 73% in the region, from 23 million in 2000 to about 6.3 million in 2019.

India’s efforts lauded

  • The WHO noted the impressive gains made by India in the fight against malaria, with reductions in cases and deaths of 18% and 20%, respectively, over the last two years.
  • India also recorded a decrease in the number of deaths from malaria between 2000 and 2019.
  • India, however, still accounted for 88 per cent of malaria cases and 86 per cent of malaria deaths in the WHO South-East Asia Region in 2019.
  • The WHO is calling on countries and global health partners to step up the fight against malaria, a preventable and treatable disease that continues to claim hundreds of thousands of lives each year.

What can be done?

  • A better targeting of interventions, new tools and increased funding are needed to change the global trajectory of the disease and reach internationally-agreed targets.
  • Ensuring access to malaria prevention — such as insecticide-treated nets and preventive medicines for children, guidance to adapt their responses and ensure the safe delivery of malaria services.