KATHMANDU: Malaria is on a steep decline in the WHO South-East Asia Region, as per the World Malaria Report published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday.
The report states that 11 countries in WHO South-East Asia Region — Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Timor-Leste — had an estimated eight million cases and 11,600 malaria deaths, respectively 69 and 70 per cent less compared to 2010. Moreover, the Maldives and Sri Lanka have been certified malaria-free countries while Timor-Leste and Bhutan are close to elimination target.
The WHO report further stated that India reduced its reported cases by half as compared to 2017 and Bangladesh and Thailand also reported a substantial decline in reported cases.
All countries in the region are on target to achieve more than 40 per cent reduction in case incidence by 2020, and all have strategic plans for malaria elimination by 2030.
“There is a strong commitment to eliminate malaria in the region, reflected in the commendable intense efforts and progress being made by member countries. This momentum needs to be sustained and further accelerated to prevent, rapidly detect and treat malaria, to benefit everyone, everywhere,” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia was quoted in the statement released by WHO.
However, the report claimed that despite progress, an estimated 1.61 billon people in the region are still at risk of contracting malaria with the disease being endemic in nine countries.
The progress and challenges in malaria elimination are periodically reviewed by member countries.