Only 8 per cent of malaria cases detected in India: WHO report

India's malaria surveillance mechanism detects only 8 per cent cases, finds new report

Malaria is back on the rise as lack of funds stalls push to wipe out disease

Malaria cases have increased across the African continent, with 194 million cases reported in 2016, up from 191 million in 2015. For every $1 we invest in malaria control and elimination we yield a $36 return for our economies.

However India, the World Health Organization report noted, is on track for a 20 – 40 per cent reduction by 2020. "According to WHO's latest malaria report, the world is not on track to reach these critical milestones", he said.

A major problem is insufficient funding at both domestic and global levels, resulting in major gaps in coverage of insecticide-treated nets, medicines, and other life-saving tools, it said.

The U.S. remains the largest global source of malaria financing, giving $1 billion, in 2016.

In 2016, governments of endemic countries provided US$ 800 million, representing 31% of total funding.

"A plateau in global funding has contributed to gaps in coverage of life-saving interventions, and it will only worsen if countries don't make malaria a priority".

The Roll Back Malaria Partnership, which released the report, said unprecedented global progress in fighting malaria since 18 years ago is at stake unless countries redouble their efforts. India is in the same condition as last year whereas Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Kyrgyzstan have declared malaria-free states in the year 2015 and 2016 sequentially.

The African Region continues to bear an estimated 90% of all malaria cases and deaths worldwide.

Fifteen countries, all but one of them in sub-Saharan Africa, carry 80 per cent of the global malaria burden.

Between 2000 and 2015, funding and the widespread uptake of new effective tools like artemisinin-based therapies, better diagnostics and insecticide-treated bed nets, led to a 60 per cent decrease in malaria deaths.

"Plasmodium falciparum is the most prevalent malaria parasite in sub-Saharan Africa, accounting for 99 per cent of estimated malaria cases in 2016". However, the rate of increase in ITN coverage has slowed since 2014, the report finds.

Also encouraging is the lack of a "clear trend" that links high rates of insecticide resistance and a high burden of disease, he pointed out. The report reveals a steep drop in the number of people protected from malaria by this method - from an estimated 180 million in 2010 to 100 million in 2016 - with the largest reductions seen in the African Region.

Between 2014 and 2016, substantial increases in case incidence occurred in the WHO Region of the Americas, and marginally in the WHO Southeast Asia, Western Pacific and African regions. Most Nigerians also do not also use mosquito treated nets, in spite of appropriation of huge funds by many states to malaria elimination programmes.

Health Ministers from the countries of the South Asia region, heads of country delegations, Regional Director WHO Southeast Asia Region Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, and WHO Deputy Director General Designate Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, were also present on the occasion.

The report also pour light on the 76 malaria endemic countries that provided data for 2010 to 2016, resistance to at least one insecticide in one malaria vector from one collection site was detected in 61 countries.

WHO is now supporting malaria responses in Nigeria, South Sudan, Venezuela and Yemen, where ongoing humanitarian crises pose serious health risks. Madagascar, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, and The Gambia registered reductions in the number of malaria cases past year. "Countries with weak malaria surveillance systems include India and Nigeria, two major contributors to the global burden of malaria, with 8 per cent and 16 per cent of cases respectively detected by the surveillance system, " the report says.

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