Malaria-free China– officially declared by WHO in the last week of June 2021, after the long battle of 70 years of Malaria. During the 1940s China used to report 30 million cases per year. From 30 million to Zero China has come a long way.
Firstly, we will see what are the criteria’s for a nation to get the certification of being a malaria-free country?
It is an official recognition by WHO (World Health Organization). Mainly there are two criteria’s that a nation needs to qualify.
a) The country needs to illustrate trustworthy evidence of ‘Zero‘ cases of human malaria parasites for continuous 3 years. To note that China has able to maintain zero cases of malaria for consecutive 4 years.
b) Fully workable or operable observation & responsive system that can prevent indigenous transmission doesn’t start again. This means that suppose China will have an external patient of Malaria in the future that will not count under China’s malaria case.
Now the question is, does WHO examine every country every year? NO. The malaria-free certification is optional. This means countries need to submit the request to WHO in order to get the award or certificate. During the pandemic last year in Nov 2020, China commence the procedure and submitted the request to WHO.
And of course, they qualified in those above mentioned two requirements.
How China did become Malaria-free?
According to the report published by WHO, China used the strategy on ‘1-3-7’. ‘1-3-7’ strategy is the WHO recommendation system to conquered Malaria.
Diagnosis within 1 day.
Case investigation for 3 days.
And public health responses within 7 days.
By the strategy definition, we can comprehend that this system requires strong or solid surveillance with quick response and good health infrastructures.
Apart from it, Molecular malaria surveillance for drug confrontation and genome-based approaches must be taken. China did the same. It mainly helps to distinguish the cases between indigenous and imported.
10 causes of deaths in low-income countries
The above graph of 2016 shows us, leading 10 causes of deaths in low-income countries. Malaria stands sixth on the list, we can understand how much it is important to conquer Malaria.
Let’s discuss India in terms of Malaria-
India has a to and fro story of Malaria. The highest incident of malaria occurred in the ’50s. India almost saw 75 million cases with 0.8 million deaths per year. During that period India launched NMCP (National Malaria Control Program) in 1953 and NMEP (National Malaria Eradication Program) in 1958. India succeed somehow in 1961 when the nation registered 1 lakh cases and zero deaths.
But after this massive success, India again saw an upturn or comeback of malaria. In 1976 India registered 6.4 million cases. Analysts suggest that the outbreak was due to the poor health infrastructure India had at that time.
Although after that India managed to come back pretty well. From 1.6 million cases in 2009 to 0.4 million cases in 2019. And the deceased count falls from 1100 in 2009 to just 80 in 2019. Of course, the target should be NILL.
The report from 2018, says that India still had 3% cases of the total malaria cases worldwide.
India’s target to wipe out malaria completely-
The nation is aiming to eliminate malaria completely by 2030. India has launched a program name NFME (National Framework for Malaria Elimination). The program period is from 2016 to 2030. This framework will not only help the nation to eliminate Malaria. Along with that, it will also help to improve health with quality of life and poverty alleviation.
What are the lessons can India learn from China-
China cooperated with Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and even with the United States for molecular surveillance. With the help of these institutes, China was easily able to distinguish the genome and some more benefits of health tech. India also needs to take such initiative to reach the ultimate goal in a more efficient way.
One more thing we need to look after that, the entire world is facing once in a century pandemic Covid-19. It has caused a 32% decline in malaria data like blood smear collection.
Especially in India, we know how the 2nd wave of the Covid pandemic hits. The nation needs to overcome this ASAP and get back on track.