In 2011, Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and north-eastern states had the highest number of reported cases of malaria. As revealed by ICMR (New Delhi), about 95 percent of the total population of the country reside in the areas with higher probability of malaria infections. Out of this, 20 percent of the population is inhabited in tribal, hilly, difficult and inaccessible areas. Approximately, 23 percent of the total cases of malaria are from Odisha which account for only 4 percent of the total population of the country.
Labangi is a remote village in Western Odisha. At a distance of three hours from the nearest town in district of Angul, it is difficult to find a healthcare centre, electricity supply or school in the village. Milu Jani, a resident of the village is a forest guard at Satakosia wildlife reserve working at a daily wage of Rs. 90 per day. Last year, like many others, Milu lost his father to malaria, an epidemic in India. The disease is prevalent in different pockets of the state. Due to lack of awareness and accessibility to healthcare facilities in the region many have lost their lives. Even while a segment of the population know that mosquito bite is the cause of the disease, they are ignorant and unaware of where do these mosquitoes breed, the detection of the disease and what are the preventive and curative measures to be taken.
Initially celebrated as Africa Malaria Day by malaria endemic countries participating in African Summit, during the 60th session of the World Health Assembly in 2007 they declared 25th April as the International World Malaria Day. It was instituted to spread awareness on intensive implementation of National Malaria control strategies, community based activities aimed at prevention and treatment of the disease in the area and also to educate and create understanding about malaria among the populace. The day allows corporations, industries and civil society organizations to come together and work towards the eradication of the disease by creating an understanding about malaria and advocating policy changes.
On the analysis of various reports by WHO(World Health Organization), Innovative Financial Advisors Pvt Ltd explains that in India, a declining trend in the number of deaths due to malaria has been observed. More than 30 million dollars has been invested in the economy by the government and other international bodies to eradicate malaria. As compared to 2003, in 2013, reduced number malaria cases were detected, leading to less distribution of anti-malarial medicines among the people. This means that there has been a steady decline in the number of deaths due to this epidemic. However, there still is a lot to be done to completely do away with the menace completely. With support from the corporations and government authorities, India shall become a malaria-free nation.
By – Aditi Singh
Programme Manager, Media and Communications