Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare today chaired the “Reaching Zero” forum on malaria elimination to celebrate World Malaria Day, through a video conference, here today.
Every year, 25th April is observed as ‘World Malaria Day’. This year’s theme for the day is “Reaching the Zero Malaria target.’’
At the outset, Dr. Harsh Vardhan congratulated the forum for choosing the particular theme for this year’s celebrations and said, “This theme is particularly important in the context of our country, as we are working to eliminate malaria nationally and to contribute to improved health, quality of life and alleviation of poverty. The World Malaria Day celebrations also provide inspiration to the global community and all affected countries that are working to root out this deadly disease & improve the health and livelihood of their people.”
Speaking on the government’s relentless efforts to eliminate the disease from India, he observed, “Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi ji has been among the 18 Global leaders who endorsed the Malaria Elimination roadmap of Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance at the East Asia Summit held in Malaysia in 2015. It was then that the alliance leadership set the goal of ensuring that the Region becomes free of malaria by 2030.”
He also detailed the gains made in that direction under the leadership of the Prime Minister: The country has been able to achieve remarkable success in reducing the malaria burden in terms of cases by 84.5% and deaths by 83.6% which has been well recognized by World Malaria Reports of 2018, 2019, and 2020. “WHO has attributed India’s success to rejuvenated political commitment, strengthened technical leadership which focused on prioritizing the right mix of vector control measures and increased domestic funding to support the effective implementation of elimination strategies,” he added.
The Minister expressed his elation at the fact that in 2020, as many as 116 districts in the Country reported zero malaria cases and congratulated all the States and districts concerned, and all the health officials & organizations that helped India attain this remarkable feat.
Dr. Harsh Vardhan also noted that health-workers achieved a monumental feat during the Pandemic: “Despite major public health challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, various good practices have been observed in healthcare delivery, such as an integrated approach to maintain non-COVID essential services, also ensuring the continuation of effective delivery of anti-malaria interventions.It is heartening to note that the availability of all drugs & diagnostic kits at all levels was ensured. Malaria Mukt Abhiyan in the Bastar Region of Chhattisgarh, was successfully carried out wherein 3.78 million people were screened for malaria. Besides this, 25.2 million long lasting insecticidal nets were distributed to the community in the high malaria endemic areas.”
He ended his address expressing hope that the State governments will give further momentum to ensure that the gains in this regard are sustained despite the pandemic challenges, and the march towards malaria elimination does not slow down. “With active community participation and sound inter-sectoral coordination, India will be able to achieve its malaria elimination target by 2030,” he stated.
Ms. Vandana Gurnani Addl. Secretary & MD (NHM), Ms Rekha Shukla, Joint Secretary (VBDs),Dr Sunil Kumar, DGHS and other senior health officials also attended the event. Dr Roderic Ofrin, WHO Representative to India represented his organization.