Home > Public Health > Malaria yearly toll to go up: Mortality Figures Set To Be Revised From 1023 To 40297

Malaria yearly toll to go up: Mortality Figures Set To Be Revised From 1023 To 40297

February 4, 2012

India may, in a few weeks, officially acknowledge that malaria kills 40 times the current estimate of 1,023 people a year.
A 16-member committee, set up by the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) to gauge India’s actual malaria death burden, has arrived at 40,297 as the average number of deaths per year due to the disease.
India’s official figure for malaria deaths stood at 1,023 in 2010 and 430 in 2011. The committee chairman and former chief of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Dr Padam Singh Pradhan, told TOI in an exclusive interview that the final report was submitted to the ministry recently.
“India records between 30,014 and 48,660 malaria deaths per year. On an average, 40,297 Indians die of the mosquito-borne disease every year. Overall, the number of malaria cases is 9.75 million,” Pradhan said.
The relook comes a day after TOI reported a Lancet study that said malaria killed an estimated 46,800 Indians in 2010. The study said it estimated “4,800 malaria deaths in children younger than five years and 42,000 malaria deaths in those aged five years or older” for 2010. In 2002, it reported 19,000 malaria deaths in children younger than five years and 87,000 in those aged five years and above.
“There is no way India’s malaria mortality figure can be as less as 1,023,” lead researcher of the Lancet study, Christopher Murray from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, told TOI from Washington. “India must exercise more energy in gauging its real burden. Interestingly, we found that only 11% of all malaria-related deaths were among children while the rest were adults. India must also give importance to verbal autopsy reports.”
NVBDCP officials, however, agreed with the finding that the majority of India’s malaria victims — almost 89% — were adults. “As against Africa, where most malaria deaths occur among the pediatric age group, in India it is mostly adults who succumb to malaria infection. We agree that India’s malaria burden will be much higher than what is presently reported. WHO, too, says India could be recording over 15,000 deaths due to malaria. However, at present we only document cases which come to hospitals and the malaria parasite is found in the blood of the victim,” an official told TOI.
Dr Pradhan said the new formula to assess mortality has factored in fever, malaria positivity and fatality rates. “Till now, fever rate was not being recorded. We will soon be revising India’s malaria mortality figures,” an NVBDCP official said.
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