April 25th is observed as World Malaria Day to assess world efforts undertaken for the eradication of this disease. Approximately 1.4 billion people continue to be at risk of malaria in South-East Asia, which makes it three out of four people in the region. Though the number of confirmed malaria cases in this region where a quarter of the world’s population resides, has gone down from 2.9 million in 2009 to 2 million in 2012, the disease continues to thrive and put many lives at risk. Global efforts to control and eliminate malaria have saved an estimated 3.3 million lives since 2000, yet Malaria continues to kill an estimated 627 000 people every year.
Malaria is an infectious disease that is caused by mosquito-borne plasmodium parasite which infects the red blood cells. It’s one of the deadliest diseases in India. About 50,000 people in India die of mosquito-borne diseases every year, with reported cases of Malaria still standing at 1.06 million till 2012. About 95% population of our country resides in malaria endemic areas and 80% of malaria reported in the country is confined to areas consisting 20% of population residing in tribal, hilly, difficult and inaccessible areas. Directorate of National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) has framed technical guidelines/ policies and provides most of the resources for the programme. Despite extensive research throughout the world, there is no vaccine for malaria yet and immunity occurs naturally through repeated infection. Children, pregnant women, and the elderly – anyone with decreased immunity is at a greater risk.
The Indian Red Cross Society, as an auxiliary to the Government of India helps by way of dissemination drives in the community making people aware as to how Malaria is caused and also the help available at hand for patients. IRCS participated in the National Control Programme in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh where our volunteers visited the communities and sensitised them regarding sanitation and cleanliness in the surroundings which aids and prevents the spread of this disease. These enthusiastic volunteers also helped distribute insecticide-treated mosquito nets. IRCS also provides mosquito nets to the victims of disasters, where the possibility of spread of vector borne diseases looms large.
I call upon our youth and energetic motivated individuals of the society to gear up and become torch bearers of this effort to control this disease from the region. The Indian Government has laid down specific provisions for the control of breeding of the malarial parasite, like environmental methods of controlling mosquito breeding including source reduction minor engineering works, by filling ditches, pits, low lying areas, streamlining, canalizing, desilting, deweeding, trimming of drains, water disposal and sanitation, emptying water containers once in a week and observing weekly Dry Day etc. By paying attention to our homes and immediate surroundings, keeping them clean and thereby preventing breeding of the mosquitos we can make a small but significant contribution from our side towards the control of this disease.
Dr S P Agarwal
Indian Red Cross Society