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 on Wednesday.
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.
Despite being the highest burden country of the South-East Asia Region, India reduced its reported cases by half as compared with 2017. Bangladesh and Thailand also reported substantial decline in reported cases, the WHO said in a statement.
Two high-burden-to-high-impact countries that achieved a significant reduction in malaria cases in 2018, as compared with the previous year, were India (2.6 million fewer cases) and Uganda (1.5 million fewer cases), the report stated.
According to the report, an estimated 6,737,000 malaria cases and 9,620 deaths due to it were reported in India in 2018.
It was 9,348,000 cases and 16,310 deaths in 2017.
According to the report, India's progress means the country no longer has the world's 4th highest malaria burden, though it still is the only non-African country among the top 11 countries with the most malaria globally.
Setting an example for other countries to follow, the report also calls out India for being the only one of the 11 countries to increase its domestic funding between 2017-2018 to fight malaria.
"India must be applauded for its sustained effort against malaria. By aligning all the stakeholders - government, private sector and citizens India has increased awareness and combatted the adverse socio-economic impact of malaria, which disproportionately affects the most vulnerable including pregnant women and children under 5," Malaria No More India country director Sanjeev Gaikwad said.
"While we have come a long way, sustained focus and increased funding are crucial to boost India's fight against malaria and ensure that India continues to lead the world and becomes malaria-free by 2030."
As WHO South-East Asia Region continues to register a steep decline in malaria incidence, the WHO today reiterated accelerated efforts by member countries to achieve zero malaria by 2030.
There is a strong commitment to eliminate malaria in the region, reflected in the commendable intense efforts and progress being made by member countries.
This momentum needs to be sustained and further accelerated to prevent, rapidly detect and treat malaria, to benefit everyone, everywhere, said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director WHO South-East Asia.
As per the report, in 2018 WHO South-East Asia Region had an estimated 8 million cases and 11 600 malaria deaths
69 per cent and 70 per cent less as compared with 2010. This is the largest decline among all six WHO Regions.
Two countries in the region - Maldives and Sri Lanka have been certified malaria-free, and two more, Timor-Leste and Bhutan, are close to elimination target.