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The Malaria Crisis in India
The malaria crisis in India has been an ongoing issue for centuries. However, along with the rest of the world, India has been making significant progress throughout the past few years with respect to decreasing its malaria cases. While millions are still at risk, India has implemented multiple health care plans that have contributed to its malaria reduction.

 What is Malaria?

Malaria is a parasite that mosquitoes spread and can produce a wide range of symptoms including fever, chills, sweating, mental confusion and gastrointestinal symptoms. Malaria is most common in warm, humid and rainy climates because that is where the parasite is able to survive and complete its growth cycle. This is why malaria has been such a prevalent disease in India and in other countries close to the equator. However, despite the stagnant weather patterns, India has been making strides towards a malaria-free nation.

In 1995, there were approximately a total of 2.93 million cases of malaria in India, with about 1,151 deaths from the disease. In comparison, 2017 saw approximately 0.84 cases of the disease in the nation and only 194 deaths.

Eliminating Malaria

Due to a combination of factors, India is on track to complete its goal of total elimination of malaria by 2027. The nation has taken the disease very seriously and has strengthened both its Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP) and the National Health Mission (NHM). A combination of these two programs has helped health professionals and citizens respond to the malaria crisis in India.

A few different strategies currently control malaria cases in India. One is vector control, which means that people control mosquitoes in high-risk areas of malaria with personal protective measures and environmental awareness. Early Case Detection and Prompt Treatment (ECDPT) is a necessary strategy for all cases of malaria, as it not only improves symptoms of the disease in those already infected, but it also helps prevent the spread of the disease by providing treatment at the time of infection.

Since malaria is a very widespread disease across Asia, India is a member of the Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network (APMEN). This is a network that the Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance (APLMA) runs, which has the goal of eliminating malaria and sharing action plans across the countries of that region.

Though there is not a malaria vaccine yet, multiple countries in Africa are currently testing a vaccination program that could make its way to India if successful. A vaccine would be economically friendly for those who are among the poorest in India or live in remote areas, where 90 percent of malaria cases occur. The vaccine would also solve the recent issue of drug-resistant parasites.

World Malaria Day

Every year, on April 25, people celebrate World Malaria Day to encourage everyone’s education about the disease and how to prevent its spread. Four percent of all malaria cases occur in India, a substantial amount, which is why it is important that the awareness of the disease is prevalent in the country.

With the significant progress that the country has made in eliminating malaria, India will continue to defy odds by continuing to empower communities and committing to further action plans.  This will ensure that the malaria crisis in India will no longer pose a major threat to its population.

– Alyson Kaufman
Photo: Pixabay

World-Malaria-Day

The answers to eliminating malaria-related deaths have long been tied up in the search for a malaria vaccine. However, Congress’s motion to put the full force of the United States behind a “World Malaria Day” is taking the fate of 3.2 billion people who are considered “high risk” out of the hands of the pharmaceutical labs.

In 2007, the 60th session of the World Health Assembly established the world’s first “Malaria Day.” Commemorated annually on April 25th, World Malaria Day is intended to emphasize and expand the fight against malaria. Through events, forums and awareness campaigns, this initiative pools the resources of the globe to increase accessibility to malaria prevention resources that exist today and ensure that those resources reach the 3.2 billion who live under fear of this threatening disease.

In April of this year, the United States reaffirmed its role in the organization and efforts behind World Malaria Day by passing Senate Resolution 119. Sponsored by Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss) and Chris Coons (D-Del), this bipartisan bill emphasizes the United States’ strategy to attack malaria’s devastating effects on child and maternal health in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Last year alone, we saw nearly 200 million cases of malaria around the world that led to more than 580,000 deaths. Most of those deaths were children under five years old, and 90 percent of them struck in Africa. These are sobering statistics, but we know that this terrible disease is both preventable and treatable,” said Wicker in a press release.

Although it may seem trivial compared to the creation of a vaccine, there is no arguing with the past results of World Malaria Day. The mortality rate of malaria plummeted by 47 percent globally, and 54 percent in Africa, largely due to the increased rates of expenditure on preventative measures like malaria nets and anti-malarial drugs.

Increased expenditure comes from increased awareness, and increased awareness is one of the central goals of World Malaria Day.

The United States’ recent renewal of their commitment to fighting world malaria has the potential to help reduce the rate of malaria mortality by the remaining 53 percent. This recent bill ensures that the United States will continue to partner the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) — started by President Bush in 2005 — with the efforts of WHO and the Global Fund, as well as numerous private and public organizations. Already, the PMI has helped reduce malaria-related deaths by 35 percent and has provided 15 million bed nets, 6 million rapid diagnostic tests and over 4.4 million anti-malarial tablets to the people of Madagascar.

Combined with the efforts of the globe coordinated in forums on April 25th, it is estimated that 4.2 million lives have been saved — and that’s without the creation of an effective vaccine.

However, while these results are promising, there are still nearly $5.1 billion needed to fully fund the efforts of World Malaria Day. As it stands, the total amount of funds are capped at $2.6 billion, which includes the contribution of the PMI.

“As we approach World Malaria Day,” said Coons, “we are reminded of the incredible successes we’ve had in recent years, but we’re also reminded of how much work lies ahead.”

Emma Betuel

Sources: Senate.gov, USAID, CDC, Congress.gov, World Malaria Day
Photo: The Iran Project

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World Malaria Day acted as an opportunity to reflect on the history of the disease as well as look to the present success of its ongoing eradication. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), global efforts toward malaria eradication have resulted in an estimated 3.3 million lives saved since 2000 and mortality rates for children in Africa have dropped by around 54 percent.

Despite these improvements, a child is still killed by malaria every 60 seconds. 3.3 billion people, half the world’s population, are affected by the disease—specifically children, for which 90 percent of all malaria-related deaths occur. The disease, which causes fevers, chills, headaches, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, can result in kidney failure, seizures or death if left untreated.

Most malaria cases are reported in sub-Saharan Africa, where the disease is most prominent. Relatively simple prevention methods, such as bed nets, have helped limit the spread of the disease. Yet despite its decline, public officials claim that less-than-adequate funding is preventing quicker malaria eradication.

“Absolute numbers of malaria cases and deaths are not going down as fast as they could,” says WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan. The effect of malaria does not just harm those in Africa, it negatively affects the Western world as well. Malaria reportedly slows economic growth by 1 percent each year — and the effects of the disease are estimated to cost Africa’s GDP more than 12 billion USD per year — even if it would cost significantly less money to control and prevent the outbreak.

Despite its decline, malaria is still all too prevalent. Only around 70 million nets were delivered to highly-affected nations in 2012; in order to significantly minimize infection, this number would have to be at around 150 million. While still desperate for new tools, their current ones are paying off to an adequate extent. Since just 2000, the global incidence rate fell by 29 percent, and 31 percent in Africa alone, where most cases occur. Declared by USAID as the “greatest success story in global health,” malaria, while still needing room for significant work, may just be said “success story” in the making.

– Nick Magnanti

Sources: Huffington Post, TIME, Mashable
Photo: Flickr