India made “strong progress” in the fight against malaria, recording the largest reduction in cases in South-East Asia from 20 million in 2000 to about 5.6 million last year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said. The World Malaria Report 2020, released, said that in 2019, malaria cases globally numbered about 229 million, an annual estimate that has remained virtually unchanged over the last four years.

Last year, the disease claimed about 409,000 lives, compared to 411,000 in 2018. “Countries in South-East Asia made particularly strong progress, with reductions in cases and deaths of 73 per cent and 74 per cent, respectively. India contributed to the largest drop in cases region-wide from approximately 20 million to about 6 million, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in the report’s forward.

The report stated that the WHO South-East Asia Region accounted for about 3 per cent of the burden of malaria cases globally. Malaria cases diminished by 73 per cent in the area, from 23 million in 2000 to about 6.3 million in 2019. WHO famous the “impressive gains” made by India in the combat towards malaria, with reductions in cases and deaths of 18 per cent and 20 per cent, respectively, during the last 2 years. India additionally recorded lower in variety of deaths from malaria between 2000 and 2019. Malaria deaths in India declined from about 29,500 in 2000 to about 7700 final 12 months, the report stated.

The report noted that the 11 highest burden countries – Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, India, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania – account for 70 per cent of the global estimated case burden and 71 per cent of global estimated deaths from malaria.

However, progress has slowed in recent years, particularly in countries with a high burden of the disease. A funding shortfall at both the international and domestic levels poses a significant threat to future gains. In 2019, total funding reached USD 3 billion against a global target of USD 5.6 billion. Funding shortages have led to critical gaps in access to proven malaria control tools. This year, COVID-19 emerged as an additional challenge to the provision of essential health services worldwide. According to the report, most malaria prevention campaigns were able to move forward this year without major delays.