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ICMR to launch programme for speeding up efforts to eradicate malaria from India by 2030

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), along with a number of national and international stakeholders, will launch a programme to accelerate efforts for eradicating malaria from India by 2030.

The Malaria Elimination Research Alliance India (MERA India) programme will bring various stakeholders on a common platform for developing research strategies in speeding up malaria elimination efforts, said Dr Rajni Kant, Head of Department (HOD), Research Management, Policy, Planning and Coordination at ICMR.

He said special focus would be on finding better drugs, diagnostics and better vector control tools for curbing the disease.

It will help in capitalising on the strengths of these partners and will reinforce trans-institutional research that will have an impact on policies, Dr Anup Anvikar, a scientist at ICMR-National Institute of Malaria Research, said.

“The idea is also to avoid duplication of research and use the findings in developing policies that will have a tangible impact,” he said, adding it would also try to address various gaps in the existing strategies to eradicate malaria from the country.

The programme is likely to be launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the next two to three weeks, a source said.

Central and state health ministries along with the National Institute of Malaria Research (NIMR) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) will be among the major stakeholders. Several multinational companies will also be roped in to the alliance.

According to WHO, India accounted for four per cent of global malaria cases in 2017 and has made significant progress in bringing down its malaria burden since then.

A government data said the total number of malaria cases in 2018 was 3.4 lakh, while it was 8.4 lakh and 11 lakh in 2017 and 2016 respectively.

The number of deaths in the country due to malaria too decreased from 331 in 2016 to 194 in 2017 and 41 last year, it stated.

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