There has been a progressive decline in the number of cases of malaria and deaths due to it and the disease is likely to be eliminated from at least 15 states in another three years, according to the government.
"By 2020 we will be able to eliminate malaria from 15 states with an annual parasite incidence (API) of less than one case per thousand population. We are sure to eliminate malaria from these states by 2020," Dr AC Dhariwal, Director of the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) in the health ministry, told PTI.
He asserted that states like Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu and Kerala and union territories including Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep and Puducherry will be free from malaria.
He, however, mentioned certain districts in Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura as malaria transmission risk areas.
"The API in some of these areas are more than two per thousand population. In some areas the scenario is worse like more than ten," he said.
In fact, a couple of districts in West Bengal were considered to be risk areas where the API was two per thousand people, he said.
"Some districts of Meghalaya and Tripura having borders with Bangladesh are also places where malaria is still a threat," Dhariwal stated.
The overall situation in India, however, has improved compared to what it was in the last century, he said.
"There has been a decline not only in the number of cases of malaria incidence but also in the number of deaths because of the disease. It's mainly because of the efforts of Bivalent Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) tests," he said.
Malaria cases have consistently declined from two million in 2001 to 0.88 million in 2013, although an increase to 1.13 million cases occurred in 2014 due to focal outbreaks, a data released by the National Framework For Malaria Elimination in India said.
The malaria burden in India has reduced significantly, thanks to the introduction of new interventions for case management and vector control, namely Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDT), Arteminisinin based combination therapy (ACT), Long-Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs) and effective Monitoring and Evaluation, Dhariwal added.
Within a year of agreeing to the Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance (APLMA) goal of a region free of malaria by 2030, about 70 per cent of districts of India had no indigenous cases or no cases reported, he said.
"But at the same time in 807 districts we have high transmission of the disease. In these districts we have set up a target of 13 years ahead," he said.
Talking about the problems in dealing with malaria in areas of "high risk", the NVBDCP director said besides manpower, threat of Naxalites has been a challenge for them to address people in these districts.
"These problems are mainly in tribal areas of Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh," he said.
"We need to have a local specific strategy for these places. We need to rope in local persons as well as local in intra-personal commentator and local preachers for areas like these," he pointed out.