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- In a historic move, the World Health Organization (WHO) endorsed the first anti-malarial vaccine.
- The WHO said that it was recommending the use of the RTS, S/AS01 (RTS, S) malaria vaccine among children in sub-Saharan Africa and in other regions with moderate to high falciparum malaria transmission.
- Malaria remains a primary cause of childhood illness and death in sub-Saharan Africa.
- The disease kills more than 2, 60,000 African children under the age of five annually.
- The vaccine does significantly reduce life-threatening severed malaria.
- Malaria is caused by single-celled microorganisms of the Plasmodium group parasites.
- The disease is most commonly spread by an infected female Anopheles mosquito.
- The mosquito bite introduces the parasites from the mosquito's saliva into a person's blood.
- The parasites travel to the liver where they mature and reproduce.
- Five species of Plasmodium can infect and be spread by humans.
- Most deaths are caused by falciparum, whereas P. vivax, P. ovale, and P. malariae generally cause a milder form of malaria.
- The species knowlesi rarely causes disease in humans.
- Malaria is predominantly found in the tropical and subtropical areas of Africa, South America as well as Asia.
- Symptoms: fever, tiredness, vomiting, and headaches. In severe cases, it can cause yellow skin, seizures, coma, or death.
- Malaria is preventable as well as curable.
- Vaccine: RTS, vaccine.
India and Malaria
- According to the World Malaria Report 2019, India represents 3% of the global malaria burden.
- Despite being the highest malaria burden country of the South East Asia region, India reported a decline of 17.6% in 2019 as compared to 2018.
- India has made remarkable progress during the recent years in reducing the malaria incidence.
- In May 2015, the World Health Assembly endorsed the Global Technical Strategy (GTS) for Malaria Elimination 2016-2030, which lays down clear global goals, milestones and targets till 2030.
- In accordance with the GTS, the Government of India launched the National Framework for Malaria Elimination 2016-2030 and the National Strategic Plan for Malaria Elimination 2017-2022 with WHO support.
- India has a vision of a malaria free country by 2027 and elimination by 2030.
- The WHO has also identified 25 countries with the potential to eradicate malaria by 2025 under its ‘E-2025 Initiative’.
- China is the first country in the WHO Western Pacific Region to be awarded a malaria-free certification in more than 3 decades.
- Globally, 40 countries and territories have been granted a malaria-free certification from WHO.
- Recent Declarations: El Salvador (2021), Algeria (2019), Argentina (2019), Paraguay (2018) and Uzbekistan (2018).
- Countries that have achieved at least three consecutive years of zero indigenous cases can apply for WHO certification of their malaria-free status.
China’s Malaria Elimination Strategy in brief
- 1-3-7 Strategy: The strategy refers to:
- A one-day deadline to report a malaria diagnosis,
- Confirming a case and determining the spread by the third day, and
- Measures taken to stop the spread by the seventh day, along with continued surveillance in high-risk areas.