India third on malaria list

New Delhi: Only 8 per cent of malaria cases were diagnosed last year in India, which accounted for 6 per cent of the 216 million new cases globally, a World Health Organisation report that pointed to a worldwide stalling of the fight against the mosquito-borne disease has said.

India was third in the list of 15 countries that accounted for 80 per cent of all malaria cases in the world in 2016, WHO's World Malaria Report 2017 said. The report pointed to signs of flatlining funding and complacency that the disease is less of a threat.

It stated the surveillance mechanism in India was weak as it detected a mere 8 per cent of malaria cases.

"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 said.

Nigeria had the most number of malaria cases, followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo, which accounted for 10 per cent. Mozambique, which accounted for 4 per cent of the global malaria cases, was fourth on the list after India.

There were 331 malaria deaths in India in 2016, the highest toll from the mosquito-borne disease in Southeast Asia.

"Odisha, the highest endemic state of India, reported an increase in cases in 2016 (to double the number in 2013). The other countries had no major outbreaks reported," the report said.

Malaria deaths in India were only lower than those in WHO's Africa region, where the figure soared to 33,997 for the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Malaria infected around 216 million people in 91 countries in 2016, an increase of 5 million cases over the previous year, WHO said. It killed 445,000 people, about the same number as in 2015.

The vast majority of deaths were in children under the age of five in the poorest parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

"Globally... after an unprecedented period of success, we are no longer making progress," said Abdisalan Noor, a WHO expert on malaria and lead author of the report. "I am concerned that we have become complacent."

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that "in some countries and regions, we are beginning to see reversals in the gains achieved".

Pedro Alonso, director of the WHO's global malaria programme, said that partly due to funding, and partly due to governments shifting focus away from malaria, the progress seen in the past decade was no longer being sustained.

Overall funding for malaria has levelled off since 2010. In 2016, an estimated $2.7 billion was invested in malaria control and elimination efforts globally. In 2015, funding totalled $2.9 billion - almost the same as in 2010.

WHO says a minimum annual investment of $6.5 billion is needed by 2020 to meet targets on controlling malaria by 2030. Agencies


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