-By Dr Naresh Purohit
(Advisor- National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme )

New Delhi: Malaria is all set to become a notifiable disease across India, with Bihar, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Meghalaya too in the process of putting this vector-borne disease in the category. This will then require by law that malaria cases be reported to government authorities.

Currently malaria is a notifiable disease in 33 States and Union Territories in India. India bears a substantial burden of malaria.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), global malaria cases have declined by 27 per cent since 2000, and malaria-related deaths have decreased by 60 per cent during the same period. However, despite these gains, malaria remains a persistent threat, particularly in countries with limited resources and health infrastructure .

Malaria exists in more than 100 countries worldwide, and some 900,000 people die from the disease each year. Globally, 3.3 billion people in 106 countries are at risk of malaria, mostly young children.

Malaria is a potentially life-threatening disease caused by parasites plasmodium vivax, plasmodium falciparum, plasmodium malariae and plasmodium ovale that are transmitted through the bite of infected female anopheles mosquitoes.

According to the World Malaria Report 2022, released by  WHO, India was the only high-burden, high-impact country in the South- East Asia region to report a decline in malaria cases in 2020 as compared to 2019. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), early diagnosis and treatment of malaria reduces disease, prevents deaths, and contributes to reducing transmission. WHO recommends that all suspected cases of malaria be confirmed using parasite-based diagnostic testing (through either microscopy or a rapid diagnostic test) if one experiences mild symptoms like fever, chills, and headache, or severe symptoms like fatigue, confusion, seizures, and difficulty breathing.

Intensified efforts must be made to reach at-risk and vulnerable populations with currently available strategies and tools. Globally, children in the poorest households are five times more likely to be infected with malaria. Malaria is also more prevalent among young children whose mothers have a lower level of education and live in rural areas. 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.