A board shows the number of patients admitted at the malaria ward at the King Edward Memorial hospital in Mumbai, on August 4, 2010. Civic body Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) released a short film to spread awareness citizens in India's commercial capital, which saw 41 fatalities from the mosquito-transmitted infection in 2010. (Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images)
In India the number of deaths due to malaria has declined in the past one decade but millions still remain threatened by the deadly mosquito sting.
According to the World Malaria Report 2012, India accounted for 61 percent of the total 2.15 million confirmed malaria cases in South-east and Asia region.
The report mentioned a slow but steady decline of 45 percent in malaria incidences in India, between the years 2000–2010. The country is projected to achieve reductions of 50–75 percent by 2015.
Although the report describes India to be in a “control phase,” it still continues to face major challenges like measuring malarial mortality rate in the country.
Different national and global bodies give drastically different figures of malarial deaths in the country, making it difficult to analyze the actual degree of the problem.
According to a report by Directorate of National Vector Borne Disease Programme (NVBDP), around 1.5 million confirmed cases of malaria are reported annually in India.
The NVBDP’s February 2013 report recorded a decrease in the malaria cases in India: 1144 deaths 2009; 1080 in 2010; 754 in 2011; 506 in 2012, and only 18 till this time of the year.
However, these malarial deaths are hugely underestimated as per the report “India’s invisible Malaria Burden,” published in the world’s leading medical journal, Lancet. The Lancet investigators estimated that 205,000 deaths per year in India could be attributed directly to malaria with lower and upper limits of 125,000 and 277,000, respectively.
The estimate is far away from the figures given by NVBDP. It also doesn’t tally with the figures given by World Health organization that reports only 15,000 malarial deaths per year.
While the World Malaria Day was celebrated on April 25, with an aim to highlight the need for continued investment and sustained political commitment for malaria prevention and control, it needs to be seen how India tackles its invisible burden of Malaria.