According to a report by the World Health Organisation, a decrease of 50-75 per cent in malaria case incidence by 2015 is projected to be seen in India, which is the country most affected by malaria in the Southeast Asian region.

The WHO`s World Malaria Report 2012 said that there were remarkable recent gains in the battle to control one of the world’s leading infectious killers during the past decade. Between 2000 and 2011, Bhutan, Korea, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand from south-east Asia Region have registered decreases of 75 per cent or more in the incidence of microscopically confirmed malaria incidence rates.

Assuring that all malaria cases are laboratory confirmed and including the private sector in the health reporting system, the report also said that India, Nepal and Thailand could also potentially move from the ‘control’ to the ‘pre-elimination’ phase by continuing their progress. The number of patients tested by microscopic examination was 171 million in 2011, with India accounting for over 108 million blood slide examinations. Measures like providing insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs) and long-lasting insecticidal nets in affected areas have been taken up in India. Outside Africa, 54 million ITNs were distributed during 2009-2011, with six countries accounting for 70 per cent of the total – India 18.4 million, Indonesia 6.5 million, Afghanistan 4.6 million, Myanmar 3.6 million, Philippines three million and China 2.2 million, the report read.

The report however warned that after rapid expansion between 2004 and 2009, funding for malaria prevention and control has reached a plateau between 2010 and 2012. This significant slowdown in global funding of anti-malaria campaigns threatens to reverse the gains made. The number of long-lasting ITNs delivered to endemic countries in sub-Saharan Africa dropped from 145 million in 2010 to an estimated 66 million in 2012 which means that many households will be unable to replace existing bed nets when required, exposing more people to the potentially deadly disease.

To achieve universal access to malaria interventions in the 99 countries with on-going malaria transmission, an estimated USD 5.1 billion is needed every year between 2011 and 2020. In 2011, the total available global funding remained at USD 2.3 billion, less than half of what is needed. This means that, according to the report, millions of people living in highly endemic areas continue to lack access to effective malaria prevention, diagnostic testing, and treatment. Efforts to prevent the emergence and spread of parasite resistance to antimalarial medicines and mosquito resistance to insecticides are also constrained by inadequate funding, it said.

Globally, an estimated 219 million people were struck by malaria in 2010, killing about 660,000, mostly children under five years of age, WHO said. Congo, India and Nigeria account for 40 per cent of estimated malaria cases. Congo and Nigeria account for over 40 per cent of the estimated total deaths due to malaria globally.

‘Global targets for reducing the malaria burden will not be reached unless progress is accelerated in the highest burden countries. These countries are in a precarious situation and most of them need urgent financial assistance to procure and distribute life-saving commodities,’ said Robert Newman, director of the WHO Global Malaria Programme.

In a forward to the report, WHO director general Margaret Chan wrote that there is now an urgent need to identify new sources of funding to boost and sustain malaria control. ‘We also need to examine new ways to make existing funds stretch further by increasing the value for money of malaria commodities and the efficiency of service delivery,’ she said. 

Read: All you need to know about Malaria