Long way to go before India achieves complete elimination of malaria

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine Comments Off

Test, treat, track every malaria case

New Delhi, 17 March 2019: A mosquito-killing drug tested in Burkina Faso reduced malaria cases by a fifth among children and could be an important new tool in the global fight against the disease, as per researchers. The drug, ivermectin, is already widely used to treat parasitic infections but had not previously been tested for its effects on malaria incidence, according to a study published in British medical journal The Lancet.

After several years of steady declines, annual cases of the mosquito-borne disease have levelled off, according to the UN health agency’s 2018 malaria report. Malaria infects over 200 million people a year and killed 435,000 in 2017, mostly in Africa.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “India is a malaria endemic country. The reported malaria cases in the country last year have declined by 23% compared to 2016, yet India still accounts for 87% of malaria cases in the South Asia region. Also, as per the World Malaria Report, India has among the weakest malaria surveillance systems globally, with only 8% of cases detected by the surveillance system. The World Health Organization (WHO) Global Technical Strategy for Malaria has set a target of reducing malaria case incidence by at least 90%, reducing malaria mortality rates by at least 90%, eliminating malaria in at least 35 countries and preventing a resurgence of malaria in all countries that are malaria-free. There is still a long road ahead before the goal of elimination of malaria throughout the country by 2030 is achieved.”

The symptoms of malaria are non-specific and can be variable. Thus, it may be mistaken for other diseases such as viral infections, typhoid and the diagnosis of malaria may be missed as a result.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “The ‘T3’ initiative of the WHO Global Malaria Program supports malaria-endemic countries in their efforts to achieve universal coverage with diagnostic testing and antimalarial treatment, as well as in strengthening their malaria surveillance systems T3 stands for Test. Treat. Track: every suspected malaria case should be tested; every confirmed case should be treated with a quality-assured antimalarial medicine; and the disease should be tracked through a timely and accurate surveillance system.”

Some tips from HCFI

  • Malaria mosquitoes grow in fresh water collected in the house. It is therefore important to not let water stagnate in your house and the surrounding areas. Mosquito cycle takes 7-12 days to complete. So, if any utensil or container that stores water is cleaned properly once in a week, there are no chances of mosquito breeding.
  • Mosquitoes can lay eggs in money plant pots or in water tanks on the terrace if they are not properly covered. If the water pots for birds kept on terraces are not cleaned every week, then mosquitoes can lay eggs in them.
  • Using mosquito nets/repellents in the night may not prevent malaria because these mosquitoes bite during the day time.
  • Malaria mosquitoes do not make a sound. Therefore, mosquitoes that do not produce a sound do not cause diseases.
  • Wearing full sleeves shirt and trousers can prevent mosquito bites. Mosquito repellent can be helpful during the day.