Sunday, July 12, 2009

Malaria in India

Ancient records describing malaria have emerged from India. "Details of this disease can be found even in the ancient Indian medical literature like the 'Charaka Samhita'" (Malaria). More recent history has been more tumultuous with crests and falls in numbers of infected individuals.

Since the 1947 epidemic, India has greatly reduced the number of deaths due to Malaria, but the disease is still a threat in many regions. In 2006, there were over 1.04 million documented cases of Malaria, with 890 ending in death. Resurgences of the disease were seen during the 1970s due to DDT shortages, and in the 1990s due to the emergence of mosquitoes that were resistant to insecticide. During the periods "of resurgence of malaria, certain states of the Union of India like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Orissa, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Pondichery are found to be worst affected" (Malaria). In the 1990s, malaria was considered "endemic in all of India except at elevations above 1800 meters and in some coastal areas" (Sharma, 1996a). However, "the total number of cases of malaria in India has stabilized somewhat over the past ten years" (Brown).

Some accuse the local and national governments of failing to report the correct number of malaria cases and assert that the actual severity of malaria in India is much greater than it appears. "India has always under-reported its malaria cases, government officials admit off the record. But the scope of the hidden problem has become astounding. While the official figures state that in 2008 India had 1.5 million malaria cases, resulting in 924 deaths, the real number of deaths is higher by several orders of magnitude" (Neelakantan). While 924 deaths from malaria were reported last year, some accusers claim that the "real number of malaria-related deaths in India was closer to 40,000 in 2008." The assertions are made by various non-governmental sources and some government officials who didn't want to be named. Since these sources prefer to remain anonymous, no conclusive evidence can be derived. Regardless, these statements may lead to further questioning and investigation in anti-malaria programs within India.

All visitors to India should note that malaria does "occur in most parts of India (including large cities). According to the World Health Organization, every year in India an estimated 2 million cases of malaria occur, with 1,000 deaths; and 95% of the population live in malaria-risk areas" (

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