New Delhi: A group of parliamentarians from different political parties have joined hands and formed a coalition to support India’s efforts to eliminate malaria by 2030. The group called ‘Parliamentarians for Malaria Elimination’ has eleven MPs belonging to different states, including many with a high malaria burden. More MPs are expected to join in the future, a statement from the group said.
The group will advocate for increased investments in malaria elimination, development of specific strategies to reduce malaria burden among vulnerable populations, and increased multisectoral collaboration to end the disease, the statement said. The group includes K J Alphons, BJP MP from Rajasthan, Gaurav Gogoi, Congress MP from Assam, Prabhakar Kore, BJP MP from Karnataka, Amar Patnaik, Biju Janata Dal MP from Odisha, Dr Vikas Mahatme, BJP MP from Maharashtra and Sanjay Jaiswal, BJP MP from Bihar. “India is well placed to eliminate malaria by 2030 and we, as Parliamentarians, must play an active role in helping the country achieve that goal. “We will work with key stakeholders at the central, state and district levels to accelerate malaria elimination not just in the states we represent but across the country,” Alphons, the coordinator of the group said.
The MPs are committed in their resolve to raise the profile of the disease and act as the bridge between the government and other stakeholders in this fight, he said. Successive Indian governments have prioritised malaria control and there was a sustained reduction in malaria mortality during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime, the statement said. Subsequently in 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government demonstrated exemplary leadership when it made a commitment at the East Asia Summit that India would eliminate malaria by 2030.
Following the high-level commitment, the National Framework for Malaria Elimination 2016-2030 and National Strategic Plan 2017-22 for Malaria Elimination were launched.
Recently, Union Health minister Harsh Vardhan reaffirmed that malaria elimination is a top priority for the government, the statement.
WHO’s World Malaria Report 2019 acknowledged India’s extraordinary progress in recent years. India was one of the two high-burden countries that achieved a 28 per cent reduction in malaria cases in 2018, according to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) World Malaria Report 2019 released recently. Malaria cases dropped by 28 per cent in 2018 compared to 2017, while there was 24 per cent decline in cases between 2016 and 2017.
India still remains one of the countries with the most number of malaria cases globally and real challenges remain. Malaria is fast retreating to hard-to-reach areas in India. People living in tribal belts, forests, mountainous regions, and border districts – who often have the least access to healthcare – are the most vulnerable.
“Malaria is and will continue to be a disease of poverty. We want to build on the commitment made by the national government and ensure this is being translated locally and leaving no one behind,” said Dr Prabhakar Kore.
Speaking on the importance of collective action, Gogoi said, “This group believes that collective action, beyond political parties and ideologies, will push the needle towards ending malaria for good.”