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WHO pat for India, Uganda for achieving a substantial reduction in cases, deaths. India and Uganda have received a special mention from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, for their substantial reduction in malaria cases in 2018 over the previous year.

According to the World Malaria Report 2019, the two high-burden-to-high-impact (HBHI) countries that achieved a significant reduction in malaria cases in 2018, as compared with the previous year, were India (2.6 million fewer cases) and Uganda (1.5 million fewer cases).

Malaria cases in India declined by 28% in 2018 compared to 2017; there was a 24% reduction in cases between 2016 and 2017.

Giving the overall landscape, the report said, there were an estimated 228 million cases and 4,05,000 deaths globally in 2018, concentrated mainly in Africa and India. This represented about 3 million fewer cases and 11,000 fewer deaths compared with 2017.

While Africa and India saw the maximum dip in malaria cases between 2017 and 2018, they still accounted for 85 per cent deaths.

As WHO South-East Asia Region continues to register a steep decline in malaria incidence, the World Health Organization today reiterated accelerated concerted efforts by member countries to achieve zero malaria by 2030.

“There is a strong commitment to eliminating malaria in the region, reflected in the commendable intense efforts and progress being made by member countries. This momentum needs to be sustained and further accelerated to prevent, rapidly detect and treat malaria, to benefit everyone, everywhere,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director WHO South-East Asia.

As per the World Malaria Report released today, in 2018 the WHO South-East Asia Region had an estimated 8 million cases and 11 600 malaria deaths –  69% and 70% less as compared with 2010. This is the largest decline among all six WHO Regions.

Two countries in the region – the Maldives and Sri Lanka – have been certified malaria-free, and two more, Timor-Leste and Bhutan, are close to elimination target.

Despite being the highest-burden country of the Region, India reduced its reported cases by half as compared with 2017. Bangladesh and Thailand also reported a substantial decline in reported cases.

All countries in the region are on target to achieve a more than 40% reduction in case of incidence by 2020, and all have strategic plans for malaria elimination by 2030.

However, despite progress, an estimated 1.61 billion people in the region continue to remain at risk of malaria with the disease being endemic in 9 countries.

“We need to intensify efforts, particularly at the sub-national and grassroots levels, with multi-sectoral collaboration, to strengthen surveillance and reach the most vulnerable and marginalized communities,” the Regional Director said.

Better implementation of treatment regimens, to effectively manage drug resistance and relapsing disease, needs to be focused upon, she said.

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