History of Malaria in India

Sunday, 2/10/2016

Malaria is an endemic disease in India. It has affected the public health and also has an impact on the development of the country. Malaria causes several deaths in India each year. The people in poverty suffer more from malaria who don’t have enough money to treat it and succumb to the disease. This isone of the reasons for India not becoming a developed country.
To study about the economic impact of Malaria it is very essential to know each aspect of it.
Malaria in India has been a problem for centuries. The details of this disease can also the found in the Charaka Samhita and Atharva Veda,  the medical literature of Ancient India. By the 1930’s, Malaria had spread so widely that each and every aspect of life in India was affected by this disease. During thelatter 19th and early 20th century, an outbreak of malaria was witnessed in India mainly in Bengal and Punjab. This affected about one – fourth of the Indian population. During those days, malaria was a cause of economic misfortune in India.
At the time of independence, 75 million people were estimated to be affected from malaria every year in a population of 330 million. The death rate due to this disease was estimated to be 0.8 million every year. In order to control and decrease these number, the Government of India launched the National Malaria Control Programme in April 1953 which proved to be successful resulting in the decrease of cases to 2 millions each year by 1958.
After gaining success in this program, the Government of India launched the National Malaria Eradication Program in 1958 with the aim of completely eradicating this disease from India. Following this program, the numbers decreased to 50,000 in 1961. But after that, the programme got a setback and the numbers started rising. In the 1960’s, malaria was widely spread all across the urban areas. As a result of this, the number of malaria cases increased to 6 millions highest after the launching of the programmes.
After implementing the Urban malaria scheme in 1971 – 1972 followed by the Modified Plan of Operation (MPO) in 1977, there was a new hope. The malaria infected cases had decreased to 2 million. It improved the conditions of malaria in the country for 5 – 6 years. MPO made the availability of drugs easier which reduced the number of deaths due to malaria. This programme mainly impacted the vivax malaria.
The launching of p.falciparum containment programme in 1977 helped the government to reduce the effect of falciparum at places where this was launched but its general spread could not be controlled. But there after in 1970’s their was a steady rise in P. Falciparum. Seeing the rise of the parasite, the government of India began the development process in various sectors in order to improve the national economy under the five year plans.
Malaria returned with all new features in the 1990’s. They were now resistant to insecticides and anti –malarial drugs. This feature not witnessed during the days of eradication. According to a world report on malaria in 2014, 22% of people live in places where malaria in a highly transmitted disease while 67% of Indians live in a place of low transmission. 11% of the population live in a area free of malaria. Out of these cases, 53% of cases are caused by P. Falciparum while P. Vivax causes 47% of the infection.
The burden of malaria in India is faced mostly by the backward and poor community. 95% of the burden is on rural areas while 5% sufferers are from the urban areas. The maximum number of malaria cases and deaths reported in India are from Orissa followed by Maharashtra, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Goa and Karnataka. The cases of P. Vivax and P. Falciparum differs. The cases of P. Falciparum accounts for 30 – 90% of cases in the forested areas of India within the ethnic tribal groups and less than 10% cases are reported in Indo–Gangetic plains, northwest India, hilly areas and Southern Tamil Nadu.
With the coming up of global warming, the cases are likely to increase.