With India still working towards reducing malaria incidence by 50-75 per cent by 2015, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged the government and corporates to continue surveillance of the situation.
April 25 is observed as World Malaria Day and this year’s theme is ‘Invest in the future. Defeat Malaria’.
Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO regional director for South-East Asia, said communities should be empowered to protect themselves and eliminating malaria requires great political participation. “Nearly 1.4 billion people are at risk of contracting malaria in South-East Asia. These are poor people, like workers in hilly or forested areas in development projects like mining, agro-forestry, road and dam construction and upland subsistence farming in rural and urban areas,” she said.
A press release from WHO stated that malaria mortality rates have been reduced by 42 per cent and the incidence of malaria decreased by 25 per cent globally between 2000 and 2012.
It warned that malaria control could also be reversed with increasing resistance to drugs by the malaria parasite and the resistance of mosquitoes to insecticides. Examples are emergence of artemisinin resistance in Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
WHO has suggested investments to develop new tools for operational research to address bottlenecks in malaria control programmes and scaling up existing interventions. Dr Singh also stressed the importance of funding for diagnostics, drugs, insecticide-treated mosquito nets and research towards eradicating the disease.
While Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Nepal and Sri Lanka managed to reduce the incidence of malaria by more than 75 per cent between 2000 and 2012, Thailand and Timor-Leste are on their way to achieving this mark. “Sri Lanka has not had any indigenous cases since November 2012 and Maldives has been malaria-free since 1984,” the release said.