Ministry of health & family welfare has made a framework to eliminate malaria nationally by the year 2030. The objective is to help eliminate the vector borne epidemic malaria from the country. The game plan spanning between 2016–2030, is through surveillance with population-based reporting from all health centres and use of preventive measures.
Although the best discovered drug artemisinin used for treating malaria is now beginning to show drug resistance, the country is gearing up to get rid of the disease by seeking to destroy both the parasite and mosquito. This is besides administering the artemisinin-based combination treatment to reduce the transmission of infection. Further, mobile clinics, community engagements, education and reliance on insecticides will support elimination of the disease.
On the occasion of the World Malaria Day observed annually on April 25, the irony is that India contributes 70% of malaria cases and 69% of malaria fatalities in the South-East Asia Region.
According to Dr Mahesh Kumar, Consultant, General Medicine, Narayana Health City, one of the challenges to control malaria is urbanisation. Stagnant water bodies at new construction sites are breeding grounds for these mosquitoes. So whatever the government is doing to eliminate malaria, urbanisation will nullify the efforts and increase the incidence of malaria.
“Drug regime depend on the type of malaria. We still see lots of vivax malaria which is a fairly simple organism. In India, we do not have much of resistant malaria and prescribe Chloroquine. But in complicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria and those patients who do not respond to chloroquine, we switch over to a combination of artemisinin or doxycycline or other second line drugs. The problem with these infectious diseases is the display of regular flu like symptoms. But if there is no relief and manifestation of high fever, headaches and chills are reported within 48 hours, one should access a medical centre. Our hospital has an infection control programme where these conditions need to be notified to the ministry of health which is a worthwhile move to eradicate the disease”, said Kumar.
Paediatric population is vulnerable to malaria and is a threatening disease because if not treated early it could be fatal or impact other body organs. However, this is a disease which is definitely preventable with simple interventions. Parents need to take up mosquito control with use of nets screens on doors-windows, use of insect repellents, ensure clean surroundings to prevent the disease. The government of India’s efforts to national vector borne disease programme is a step in the right direction. Here central and state governments need to improve sanitation and avoid collection of water, Dr Rajeev Aggarwal, HoD – paediatrics & consultant neonatologist, Narayana Health City.
Overall, malaria cases have consistently declined from 2 million in 2001 to 1.13 million cases in 2015. The fatality due to malaria also declined from 1,005 in 2001 to 287 in 2015.
Contributing to malaria prevention work of the Government, Jubilant Bhartia Foundation as a part of the Prime Minister Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan took on the construction and renovation of toilets in government primary schools. The company also developed an ‘Eco Club’ in each project schools to promote good hygiene practices to combat water and air borne diseases including malaria.