Can India Attain Malaria-free Status By 2030?
Pr/Article on Can India country become Malaria Free Status by 2030?
The climate is ideal for breeding of diverse species of mosquitoes. Apart from the climate, laxity in implementation of cleanliness drives, limited or no awareness among common people regarding the cause, effects and prevention of mosquitoes has led to humongous increase in mosquito menace. Mosquito borne diseases are obviously playing havoc in the life of people causing deadly diseases like Malaria, Dengue, Chikungunya. Among them Malaria is the oldest known mosquito borne disease whose symptoms have been reported long back. All though various steps have been taken towards eradicating Malaria in India, yet the mission remains unaccomplished till now.
The present scenario becomes grimmer for India, as its neighbor Sri Lanka has been able to achieve this feat of becoming a country that is Malaria free on September 5, 2015. India though 50 times larger than SriLanka has remained way behind in achieving its target of freeing the country from this disease. Although in 1960, India was nearing its goal of eliminating as well as eradicating Malaria, it missed its target. Armed with a powerful arsenal DDT, an effective disinfectant, India joined the 60 countries to sign a pact of eliminating Malaria in 1950. 1, 50,000 people were employed in India to solely administer DDT efficiently. Initially the results were dramatic, the malaria fatalities reduced from 800,000 per year in 1950s to nearly zero in early 1960s. But again the cases of malaria started increasing in 1970s. According to Dr. Sowmya Swaminathan, director general of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), "This happened due to a bit of complacency which led to some laxity in the program. Plus, by then even DDT resistance may have developed."
DDT had a detrimental effect on the environment because it got ingrained in the food chains due to its extensive spray on the insects. Birds preying on the dead insects laid abnormal eggs with thin shells and where killed eventually.
Dr. Swaminathan nevertheless finds a ray of hope, as in states like Punjab, malaria has suffered a setback reaching to the point of extinction, but still lot of areas need improvement. A negative aspect of Malaria is that it has resulted in drug resistance inside the body, causing the symptoms to aggravate even under medication. The disease is inter- linked with human habitation and hygiene at the root level. In general it has been reported that malarial cases has been reported more in undernourished and impoverished zones.
Dr. Neena Valecha, scientist and director, National Institute of Malaria Research of the Indian Council of Medical Research says "The most-affected areas in India are in the central belt - Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and North East - but today we have good tools. We have good treatment for malaria, we have good diagnosis system and we are looking at vector control through means other than medicines in the form of supply of bed nets". She also feels that with good implementation, proper supply chain, quick diagnosis and patient's care, the goal to make India malaria- free by 2030 can be attained.
She informed that Government is geared to implement a revised treatment policy in the whole country. The key challenges still lie in the maintaining a good supply chain and effective deployment of vector control strategies. According to Dr. Valecha, a seamless implementation involves "management of whole chain from attending the patient to diagnosis, treatment through rapid diagnostic kits and medicines and reaching them in time and in good supply. This could prove be a challenge in conflict prone regions or places that get cut off during heavy rains or monsoons." Preventive measures involve spraying of insecticide called 'Indoor Residual Spray' and use of bed nets. SriLanka has successfully achieved the target of malaria eradication inspite of presence of conflict zones although it is much smaller a nation and has much less disease complexity. Still the efforts needs to be appreciated and is worth practicing.
The need of the order is to turn towards an innovation which is not only highly effective but is also eco-friendly, in terms of zero chemicals and zero fumes. Economically viable technology which can act over a large area and can also work indoors can really work wonders.
Whatever be the strategy applied, the silver lining in the cloud is that we can wake up to a reality that India can become a Malaria free country by 2030.So lets raise our hands together and cheer towards the fulfillment of this ultimate dream.