World Malaria Day is observed every year on April 25, with the aim of raising awareness about the devastating impact of malaria and the ongoing global efforts to eliminate this deadly disease. Malaria is caused by the Plasmodium falciparum parasite and is transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitoes, posing a significant public health challenge in many parts of the world, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Efforts to combat malaria have made significant progress in recent years, thanks to increased funding, improved diagnostic tools, and effective prevention and treatment strategies. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), global malaria cases have declined by 27 per cent since 2000, and malaria-related deaths have decreased by 60 per cent during the same period. However, despite these gains, malaria remains a persistent threat, particularly in countries with limited resources and health infrastructure.
India, in particular, bears a substantial burden of malaria. The latest World Malaria Report by WHO indicates South-East Asia accounted for about 2 per cent of the burden of malaria cases globally and India accounted for 79 per cent of cases in the region, while Sri Lanka was certified malaria free in 2016 and remains malaria free.
The impact of malaria extends beyond its health consequences. It can hinder economic development, affect productivity, and disproportionately impact vulnerable populations, such as children, pregnant women, and marginalised communities. Recognising the urgency to tackle this health hazard, India has set ambitious goals to eliminate malaria by 2030, in alignment with the global target set by WHO.
Efforts to combat malaria in India encompass a combination of vector control measures, including insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor residual spraying, and early diagnosis and treatment of cases. There is also a focus on strengthening surveillance, monitoring and evaluation, and community engagement to increase awareness about prevention measures and promote timely access to healthcare services.
In this context, here is a clutch of stories from Frontline that will help you obtain a panoramic view of the Malaria problem in India and beyond.