Malaria cases in India drops to 5.6mn in 2019: WHO report


New Delhi, Nov 30, 2020, IANS

Malaria cases in India dropped from about 20 million cases in 2000 to about 5.6 million in 2019, said a World Health Organization report on Monday.

In the WHO South-East Asia Region, India contributed to the largest absolute reductions in malaria, as compared to 2018, cases in India reduced by 1.2 million, according to WHO's latest World Malaria Report.

In 2019, the global tally of malaria cases was 229 million, an annual estimate that has remained virtually unchanged over the last 4 years. The disease claimed some 409,000 lives in 2019 compared to 411,000 in 2018.

The WHO report said that progress against malaria continues to plateau, particularly in high burden countries in Africa.

Gaps in access to life-saving tools are undermining global efforts to curb the disease, and the Covid-19 pandemic is expected to set back the fight even further.

"It is time for leaders across Africa - and the world - to rise once again to the challenge of malaria, just as they did when they laid the foundation for the progress made since the beginning of this century," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said in a statement.

"Through joint action, and a commitment to leaving no one behind, we can achieve our shared vision of a world free of malaria."

Despite India's progress, the country still contributes significantly to the global malaria burden.

India is among the 11 highest malaria burden countries in the world -- and the only one outside of Africa -- that collectively contribute about 70 per cent of the world's malaria cases and deaths, nonprofit Malaria No More pointed out.

The WHO World Malaria Report also revealed that India continues to be the largest contributor of malaria cases in the WHO's South-East Asia Region - reporting about 88 per cent of malaria cases and carrying 86 per cent of malaria deaths in the region -- in 2019.

"India has come a long way in bolstering its fight against malaria and it shows that with its year-on-year reduction in malaria cases and deaths," said Sanjeev Gaikwad, Country Director, Malaria No More India.

"The Covid-19 pandemic adding to the healthcare burden reminds us of the importance of ending malaria and enabling countries to turn their attention to other diseases and emerging threats."

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