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WHO Declares Sri Lanka Malaria Free
Sep 10, 2016

In a remarkable public health achievement, Sri Lanka has recently been certified malaria- by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Through an intensive anti-malaria campaign, the island nation has gone from being one of the worst victims of the epidemic to defeating it completely.

  • On September 6, Sri Lanka became the third and most populous country in Asia to be declared malaria-free by the World Health Organization.

  • Only the Maldives and Singapore have also been declared free of the disease in the region but both countries have less than a quarter of Sri Lanka’s 21 million population.

  • The island nation’s feat comes with a backdrop of a three-decade civil war and limited resources, and puts it ahead of its neighbors India, Thailand and Bangladesh.

  • Sri Lanka’s achievement is truly remarkable. In the mid-20th century it was among the most malaria-affected countries, but now it is malaria-free.

  • Sri Lanka began its anti-malaria campaign in 1911 just ahead of the disease peaking at 1.5 million cases and almost achieved malaria elimination in 1963, when just 17 cases of the disease were recorded but funding was diverted and malaria took hold again. It took five decades to recover the ground lost against the disease.

  • By 2006, the country recorded less than 1,000 cases of malaria per year and since October 2012, the indigenous cases were down to zero.

  • For the past three-and-a-half years, no locally transmitted cases have been recorded.

The biggest challenge for Sri Lanka is to ensure monitoring. International funding for Sri Lanka’s anti-malaria campaign ends in 2018 and after that the full financial responsibility falls on the government. Sri Lanka’s government has assured continued support and its cabinet has already approved a 10% increase each year for current anti-malaria funds.

  • According to the latest estimates from WHO, there were 214 million new cases of malaria and 438,000 deaths from the illness worldwide in 2015. 

  • The African region accounted for 88% of new cases followed by the South-east Asia at 10%, and the eastern Mediterranean at 2%.

  • In South-east Asia as many as 1.3 billion people are estimated to be at risk from the disease, according the World Malaria Report 2015 published by WHO.

  • According to the WHO, Malaria cases are falling worldwide. Between 2000 and 2015, new malaria cases fell by 37% globally, and by 42% in Africa. During this same period, malaria mortality rates fell by 60% globally and by 66% in the African region.

  • In 2015, 214 million cases of malaria were reported worldwide, as a result of which 4,38,000 people died. 

  • Most of these cases were reported sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America. 

  • The WHO aims at eliminating malaria in 35 more countries, including India, by 2030. 

  • The organisation has also decided to ramp up its annual funding for the mission from the current $2.5 billion to $8.7 billion by 2030 to achieve this goal.

  • The WHO has targeted eliminating malaria in at least 35 countries more countries by 2030 with India and Indonesia expected to meet the target. 

  • However, the WHO said annual funding for malaria will need to triple over the next 15 years, from the current $ 2.5 billion to $ 8.7 billion by 2030 to achieve this goal.

Indian Scenario: In India too, the number of cases of malaria have come down from 2 million to approximately 1,12,000 between 2000 and 2015. Malaria in India, however, continues to affect a large section of the population, especially those living in hilly and damp regions. 80 percent of malaria cases reported in India are reported in sections of north and north-east India where only 20 percent of the country's total population lives. 287 deaths were reported due to malaria in India last year alone.


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