The malaria in the country is concentrated in hard-to-reach forest areas of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura
India has seen an 86 percent decline in malaria cases and a 76 percent drop in deaths from malaria between 2015 and 2021.
In an article titled “Science of malaria elimination: Ending malaria in the Asia Pacific region” published in the TOI, the authors Altaf Ahmed Lal and Sarthak Das say the malaria in India is concentrated in hard-to-reach forest areas of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura.
In these areas environmental conditions coupled with suboptimal infrastructure and development make it challenging for communities to access health services.
Lal is a senior advisor global health and innovation, Sun Pharma and Sarthak Das is chief executive officer, Asia Pacific Leaders’ Malaria Alliance Secretariat.
There are an estimated 25 high-burden districts in India, which should be the target for intense and targeted malaria elimination effort, so that these ‘heartlands of malaria’ are made malaria free as soon as possible. These districts are designated as Category 2 (medium) and 3 (highest) based on the intensity of malaria transmission.
To support the national malaria elimination goal, two projects have generated important evidence of what is possible: the DAMaN (Durgama Anchalare Malaria Nirakaran) Project in Odisha and the Malaria Elimination Demonstration Project (MEDP) in tribal district of Mandla, Madhya Pradesh.
The key objective of DAMaN was to test and treat malaria in hard-to-reach villages of Odisha. The project achieved a remarkable 88 percent reduction of cases. In contrast, MEDP used the existing strategies of the National Strategic Plan for Malaria Elimination, including robust surveillance and case management, vector control, social and behavioural change communication, and capacity building with an intense focus on accountability, reviews, monitoring and feedback at each level.
MEDP achieved a 91 percent reduction in indigenous malaria cases in all 1233 villages under 4 years and published the learnings for disseminating and replicating best practices throughout the country and the region.
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