New Delhi: On World Malaria Day, the WHO has urged the countries affected by the disease globally to accelerate the reach of high-impact tools and strategies to prevent, detect and treat malaria, with a focus on reaching the most vulnerable, ensuring that no person is left behind. In the shadow of the COVID-19 crisis, the world is not on track to reach the two critical targets of the WHO Global Technical Strategy (GTS) for malaria 2016-2030: reducing global case incidence and mortality by 90 per cent or more by 2030, based on 2015 levels, Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director for South-East Asia, said.
In 2021, an estimated 619,000 people globally died of malaria compared to 625,000 in 2020. There were an estimated 247 million new cases of malaria, compared to 245 million in 2020, Dr Singh said. By the end of 2020, the South-East Asia Region was the only WHO region to achieve a 40 per cent reduction in malaria case incidence and mortality compared to 2015, the first GTS milestone, she stated.
Amid the COVID-19 response, the Maldives and Sri Lanka have maintained their malaria-free status, and five countries of the region – Bhutan, DPR Korea, Nepal, Thailand and Timor-Leste – are among 25 countries and one territory globally identified as having the potential to eliminate malaria by 2025. In 2022, health ministers from across the region unanimously endorsed a statement on ‘Renewed Commitment for Malaria Elimination’, emphasizing the urgent need to scale up proven implementation strategies, while also adopting innovative strategies and tools.
Also Read:World Malaria Day 2023: All You Need To Know About Its Significance, Causes And Treatment
The statement is aligned with the region’s 2017 Ministerial Declaration for Accelerating and Sustaining Malaria Elimination, as well as the 2018 Ministerial Call for Action to eliminate malaria in the Greater Mekong Subregion.
Today, the region is at a crossroads. Since 2010, overall funding for malaria prevention and control in the region has decreased by 36 per cent, mostly on account of flagging global support, Dr Singh said.
Reductions in the efficacy of artemisinin-based combination therapies, especially in the Greater Mekong Subregion, as well as increased vector resistance to pyrethroids, risk increased morbidity, mortality and spread. In several countries, cross-border transmission continues to be a major impediment to achieving the elimination targets.
Across the region, gaps in services persist: In 2021, there were an estimated 3,85,000 more cases in the Region compared to 2020. WHO is calling for action in several key areas. First, strengthening capacity at the sub-national level, with a focus on identifying clear and actionable goals, increasing resource allocations, and empowering local decision-makers, she said.
Second, shifting power to the peripheries, with a focus on increasing cross-border collaboration, especially in high-burden countries neighbouring nations on the verge of elimination, she said. Third, ensuring adequate and sustained financing for malaria programmes, recognizing that transitions in funding must be anticipated, planned for and implemented gradually, based on a time-bound strategy, the WHO regional director said.
Fourth, transforming surveillance into a core malaria intervention, ensuring that last-mile barriers are identified and overcome. And fifth, accelerating high-impact innovations, not just in diagnostics and treatments, but also in service delivery, in line with the Region’s primary health care approach to achieving universal health coverage – since 2014, one of eight ‘Flagship Priorities’ in the region, she said.
Crucially, intensified efforts must be made to reach at-risk and vulnerable populations with currently available strategies and tools. Reaching these populations with available malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment is critical for achieving the Global Technical Strategy for malaria 2016-2030 and Sustainable Development Goal targets and delivering on the promise of zero malaria for everyone, everywhere, Dr Singh said.
Also Read:Oxford University, Serum Institute Of India Tie-up Delivers ‘High Efficacy’ Malaria Vaccine
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – theLGBTQ population,indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the currentCOVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water,SanitationandHygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fightmalnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health,adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues likeair pollution,waste management,plastic ban,manual scavengingand sanitation workers andmenstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India wheretoiletsare used andopen defecation free (ODF)status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched byPrime Minister Narendra Modiin 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.