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World Malaria Report 2023

Context:

The World Health Organisation (WHO) published a report titled ‘World Malaria Report 2023’.

Relevance:

GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Malaria
  2. World Malaria Report 2023: Key Insights
  3. India in the World Malaria Report
  4. Government of India’s Efforts to Control Malaria

Malaria:

  • Malaria is a disease caused by the Plasmodium parasite.
Transmission through Mosquito Bites:
  • The Plasmodium parasite is primarily transmitted to humans through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.
  • These Anopheles mosquitoes are often referred to as “night-biting” mosquitoes because they are more active and likely to bite between dusk and dawn.
Variety of Parasites:

While there are many types of Plasmodium parasites, only five of them cause malaria in humans:

  • Plasmodium falciparum: Predominant in Africa, responsible for most malaria-related deaths worldwide.
  • Plasmodium vivax: Mainly found in Asia and South America, causing milder symptoms but capable of remaining dormant in the liver, leading to relapses.
  • Plasmodium ovale: Less common, usually found in West Africa, can stay in the liver for several years without causing symptoms.
  • Plasmodium malariae: Rare and primarily found in Africa.
  • Plasmodium knowlesi: Extremely rare, found in parts of Southeast Asia.
Transmission Process:
  • When an infected mosquito bites a person, the Plasmodium parasite enters the bloodstream and eventually travels to the liver.
  • The infection develops in the liver, and then the parasites re-enter the bloodstream and invade red blood cells (RBCs).
  • Within RBCs, the parasites grow and multiply. Periodically, the infected RBCs burst, releasing more parasites into the bloodstream.
  • If another mosquito bites a person already infected with malaria, it can become infected and subsequently spread the parasite to other individuals.
  • Notably, malaria does not transmit directly from person to person. It relies on the mosquito vector for transmission between humans.

World Malaria Report 2023: Key Insights

Annual Assessment:
  • Each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) releases the World Malaria Report, offering a comprehensive and up-to-date evaluation of global trends in malaria control and elimination efforts.
Trends in Global Malaria Burden:
  • Despite advancements in providing insecticide-treated nets and antimalarial medicines, the report highlights an alarming increase in malaria cases.
  • In 2022, there were an estimated 249 million malaria cases worldwide, surpassing the pre-pandemic level of 233 million recorded in 2019.
Climate Change Threat:
  • A notable addition to this year’s report is a dedicated chapter addressing the intersection of climate change and malaria.
  • Climate variables like temperature, humidity, and rainfall can affect the behavior and survival of malaria-carrying Anopheles mosquitoes.
  • Extreme weather events, such as heatwaves and flooding, can directly impact malaria transmission and disease burden.
  • An example is the five-fold increase in malaria cases in Pakistan in 2022 due to catastrophic flooding.
Challenges Persist:
  • Beyond climate change, challenges like conflict, humanitarian crises, resource limitations, and issues like drug and insecticide resistance continue to hinder progress in malaria control.
Positive Developments:
  • The report highlights positive achievements, including the phased introduction of the first WHO-recommended malaria vaccine, RTS, S/AS01, in three African countries.
  • In October 2023, WHO recommended a second safe and effective malaria vaccine, R21/Matrix-M, further enhancing malaria prevention efforts.
  • Availability of two vaccines is expected to improve supply and enable widespread deployment in Africa.
  • Many countries with a low malaria burden have made progress toward malaria elimination. In 2022, 34 countries reported fewer than 1000 cases, compared to only 13 in 2000.

India in the World Malaria Report:

  • The World Malaria Report indicates that India was responsible for a significant portion of malaria cases in the World Health Organization’s South-East Asia region in 2022, accounting for 66% of the cases.
  • Furthermore, India, along with Indonesia, accounted for approximately 94% of all malaria-related deaths in the same region in the preceding year.
  • The report highlights that nearly 46% of all cases in the region were attributed to Plasmodium vivax, a protozoal parasite causing malaria in humans.

Government of India’s Efforts to Control Malaria:

  • India has made substantial strides in malaria control efforts. Since the year 2000, the country has successfully reduced malaria cases by over 50% and decreased malaria-related deaths by more than 66%.
  • In 2016, India introduced its inaugural National Framework for Malaria Elimination (2016-2030), with a vision to achieve a malaria-free country by 2027 and complete elimination by 2030.
  • In 2019, the Government of India took additional measures by increasing funding for the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme by more than 25%. India also enhanced its support as a donor to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, further reinforcing its commitment to combat malaria.

-Source: The Hindu


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