PUNE: State surveillance data shows that Malaria cases in Maharashtra have dropped by 20% in the last two years; a development that augurs well for the country’s target of achieving Malaria elimination by 2030. According to the data, 15,451 Malaria cases were reported in the state in 2022, which is 20% less than the 19,303 Malaria cases reported in 2021. Similarly, 2,579 Malaria cases were reported in the state till May 2023, which is again 20% less than the number of Malaria cases reported in the corresponding period last year.
Health officials said that Malaria cases in the state have decreased, and five districts including Latur, Osmanabad, Nanded, Parbhani and Hingoli have reported zero cases of Malaria. Whereas 16 districts including Bhandara, Ratnagiri, Dhule, Nandurbar, Wardha, Ahmednagar, Kolhapur, Nashik, Jalgaon, Washim, Sangli, Beed, Solapur, Aurangabad, Jalna and Yavatmal have reported a meagre one to 10 Malaria cases.
That Malaria cases in Maharashtra have dropped bodes well for India’s target of eliminating Malaria by 2030. The National Framework for Malaria Elimination (NFME) 2016-2030 has outlined the country’s strategy for elimination of the disease by 2030. Whereas the decline in Malaria cases in Maharashtra is the direct outcome of various initiatives taken by the Maharashtra health department that are in keeping with the larger, national objective.
On December 21, 2021, the state health department made Malaria a notifiable disease. Malaria is a vector-borne disease caused by a parasite and spreads through the bite of infected, female Anopheles mosquitoes. The department is conducting an Information Education and Communication (IEC) programme to raise awareness about vector-borne diseases like Malaria. Similarly, June is observed as ‘Malaria prevention month’ every year under the National Insect Disease Control Programme, officials said.
Dr Kailas Baviskar, deputy director of health services, state family welfare department, said that to identify new Malaria cases, a survey is being conducted in villages across the state. “Malaria is caused by Plasmodium Vivax, a protozoan. In Maharashtra, two species of Plasmodium Vivax and Plasmodium Falciparum are mainly found. Among them, Falciparum is dangerous and can be fatal. Due to which, we are eliminating the breeding spots of the vector of the disease,” Dr Baviskar said.
Dr Baviskar said that guppies or millionfish feed on mosquito eggs and larvae are used for the elimination of Anopheles mosquito breeding spots. “This has been followed in both the rural and urban areas of the state. Till now, we have established 11,098 guppy fish breeding centres in the state and fish have been released in 192,118 mosquito breeding sites. In high-risk villages and outbreak areas, house-to-house spraying of synthetic pyrethroid insecticides is carried out every year in the state,” he said.
Dr B S Kamlapurkar, joint director of the state health department, said that 33 out of the 34 districts in the state have an annual parasite index (API) of less than 1%. “However, the problem is Gadchiroli district which has sizeable tribal populations. For the last two years, we have conducted a special Malaria prevention and elimination programme in Gadchiroli. The annual blood examination rate (ABER) in the state has risen to 12.9% in 2022 from 10.4% in 2021. From 2021 to 2022, we have also distributed 3.51 lakh high-quality mosquito nets in areas in the state that are prone to mosquitoes,” Dr Kamlapurkar said.