Malaria for India and Its Impact on The Country
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease caused by the Plasmodium parasite. It is primarily transmitted to humans through the bite of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. The parasites multiply in the liver and then infect red blood cells, leading to recurrent episodes of fever, chills, and flu-like symptoms. If left untreated, malaria can be life-threatening, particularly in vulnerable populations such as children and pregnant women.
Malaria for India is a significant health concern, especially in regions with favorable environmental conditions for mosquito breeding. Understanding the modes of transmission is crucial in combating the disease effectively.
Malaria Statistics in India
Malaria for India presents a significant burden on a global scale. The country plays a substantial role in the global malaria scenario, accounting for 2% of the global malaria case burden and 2% of global malaria deaths. Furthermore, India bears a staggering 85.2% of the malaria burden in South East Asia, highlighting its critical position in the efforts towards global malaria elimination, particularly within the South-East Asian region.
The complexity of malaria in India stems from its diverse geography and ecology. The disease is primarily caused by two major malaria parasites, Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax, although instances of other species have been reported in specific regions. Malaria transmission involves nine distinct Anopheline species, with six acting as primary vectors for the disease.
Regions in India Most Affected by Malaria
The prevalence of malaria for India exhibits regional variations, with certain states and districts experiencing higher levels of infection. Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Assam are particularly affected by malaria, recording a greater incidence of cases compared to other regions.
India reports approximately 2 million confirmed malaria cases and 1,000 deaths each year. However, estimates from the WHO South East Asia Regional Office suggest a much higher burden, indicating around 15 million cases and 20,000 deaths annually.
Among these figures, the state of Odisha significantly contributes to the malaria caseload, accounting for 25% of reported cases, 39.5% of P. falciparum malaria cases, and 30% of malaria-related deaths in India.
Impact of Malaria on Public Health in India
The impact of malaria on public health in India, particularly in tribal areas, is significant.. Approximately 539 million people in India reside in high transmission areas for malaria, and it is a significant health issue in rural/tribal areas of central, eastern, and northeastern states, particularly in 16 states with a large population of ethnic groups.
Moreover, tribal populations in India mostly reside in remote areas with geographical challenges like forests, hills, valleys, and perennial streams. These areas provide suitable conditions for malaria transmission due to the presence of various malaria parasites and vector species.
The Economic Burden of Malaria in India
Financial Costs of Malaria Treatment and Prevention
A study conducted in India on the economic burden of malaria for India estimated that around 95% of the population lives in malaria-endemic areas, with 80% of reported cases concentrated in tribal and inaccessible regions. Using national survey data, the study applied a cost-of-illness approach to assess the economic burden of malaria.
The findings suggest a total burden of approximately US$ 1940 million, with lost earnings accounting for 75% and treatment costs for 24%. Mortality was found to have a minimal impact on the economic burden due to low death rates.
The study also revealed a declining focus on vector-borne diseases in public expenditure, with financial resource allocation not aligning with the malaria burden.
Citation:Indrani Gupta & Samik Chowdhury. (2014). Economic burden of malaria in India: The need for effective spending. WHO South-East Asia Journal of Public Health, 3 (1), 95 – 102. World Health Organization. Regional Office for South-East Asia.
Loss of Productivity and Economic Development
Malaria for India can have a significant impact on economic development by reducing productivity and increasing healthcare costs. When individuals in India become sick with malaria, they may miss work or school, leading to lost income and reduced productivity. In addition, the cost of treating malaria can be a significant burden on Indian families and healthcare systems.
In the pre-eradication era, malaria had a significant impact on India. Prior to the launch of the National Malaria Control Program in 1953, India experienced an estimated 75 million cases of malaria per year, with 800,000 deaths directly attributed to malaria annually.
The National Malaria Control Program in India has been effective in reducing the burden of malaria, but there is still work to be done. Recent estimates indicate that in 2019, India accounted for approximately 88% of all malaria cases and 86% of all malaria deaths in Southeast Asia.
The Social Burden of Malaria in India
Impact on Education and Academic Performance
A study aims to assess how malaria affects various aspects of students’ academic achievement (with a specific focus on secondary school students in the South West Nyakach ward), including class attendance, private studies, assignments, exams, and extracurricular activities.
Through surveys and data analysis, the research reveals a high incidence of malaria cases among students, resulting in symptoms like headaches, fever, and stomachaches that impede their concentration and performance in school. T
Recurrent malaria infections can create learning gaps and hinder children’s ability to keep pace with their peers, perpetuating social inequalities in education.
Effect on Quality of Life and Well-being
Malaria has far-reaching effects on the quality of life and overall well-being of individuals and communities in India. The recurring symptoms of the disease, such as fever, fatigue, and other health issues, significantly impair daily activities, work productivity, and social interactions. The physical and emotional strain caused by Malaria for India can diminish the overall quality of life and impact mental well-being, exacerbating the burden experienced by affected individuals.
Malaria’s Influence on Social Inequality
Malaria exacerbates existing social inequalities, particularly affecting vulnerable populations in India. Those living in poverty, rural areas, and marginalized communities are more susceptible to the disease due to limited access to healthcare, inadequate sanitation, and poor housing conditions. Malaria for India deepens disparities in health outcomes, education, and socioeconomic status, perpetuating social inequality and hindering equitable development.
India Government Initiatives and Programs for Malaria Control:
- The National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) was launched in 1953, focusing on insecticidal residual spray, monitoring and surveillance of cases, and treatment of patients.
- In 1958, it was converted to the National Malaria Eradication Programme (NMEP).
- In 1976, there was a resurgence of malaria, leading to the launch of the modified plan of operations (MPO) in 1977, with a strategy of early diagnosis and prompt treatment, vector control, and IEC/BCC with community participation.
- An Enhanced Malaria Control Project (EMCP) was launched in 1997, and the Intensified Malaria Control Project (IMCP) was launched in 2005 with the support of the World Bank and The Global Fund.
- The National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) was established in 2002, integrating malaria control and other vector-borne diseases.
- Various tools for malaria prevention and control were introduced under NVBDCP, including RDTs for P. falciparum detection, ACT, LLINs, and newer insecticides and larvicides.
Importance of Continued Efforts to Combat Malaria for India
It is clear that malaria for India poses a significant challenge, affecting various aspects of society. However, the efforts to combat the disease have shown promise. Government initiatives and programs, public awareness campaigns, and the dedicated work of healthcare professionals and organizations have made a positive impact.
To effectively address Malaria for India, it is crucial to continue and strengthen these efforts. This includes sustained funding for prevention measures, healthcare infrastructure development, and research for improved diagnostics and treatment. Public awareness and education must be ongoing to empower individuals and communities to take proactive measures against the disease.
By prioritizing the fight against Malaria, India can reduce its economic and social burden, improve public health outcomes, and create a more equitable society. Continued collaboration and commitment from all stakeholders will be vital in achieving this goal.
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