At a time when the entire country is wrestling with Covid-19, Telangana’s vector control programme team has been tasting success in controlling the mosquito-borne disease.
For the last two years, Telangana is reporting up to five cases per 1 lakh population and not a single death since 2017.
“The state during the formation time was in pre-elimination stage (category 2) of malaria status, but now it has come very close to the elimination stage (category 0) and we well could be the first to do so,” said a top health official monitoring the vector control programme.
Along with Telangana, states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Odisha and Kerala are all reporting low cases. Health experts have called upon the Centre to set 2030 as a deadline to eradicate malaria from the country.
After the Covid-19 pandemic began in 2020, there has been a quick reduction in the number of cases compared to previous years.
From 2017, when the state reported a total of 2,688 cases, malaria numbers have come down to 1,709 in 2019 and in 2020, authorities reported 872 cases.
Since 2017, the state has reported a total of 7,299 malaria cases.
So far, this year, only 240 cases have been reported, giving hope of eliminating malaria sooner than expected.
While there are risks of transmission in few remote districts of Telangana, the state is progressing well on the eradication front.
“We are making all-out efforts to make our state malaria-free with Palle Pragati and Pattana Pragati programmes, where sanitation and cleanliness drives are being taken up in a big way,” Dr G Srinivasa Rao, director of public health, told TOI.
Public health experts attribute the sharp decline to the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent focus back on healthcare systems.
“Interestingly Covid-19 and malaria have similar symptoms, and GHMC for example has used spays for controlling Covid-19, and people got help in both ways,” Dr Subodh Kandamuthan, professor and healthcare centre director, Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI) said.