Strengthen efforts to eliminate malaria by 2030: WHO

New Delhi, July 29 (IANS) The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday urged southeast Asian nations to strengthen efforts to eliminate malaria across the region by 2030.

“Our efforts so far focused on the most deadly P. falciparum malaria. We need to now broaden our strategy to include targeted interventions for P. vivax malaria, which is contributing to a large proportion of global malaria burden, mainly in the southeast Asia region,” Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO’s director for the southeast Asia, said.

Poonam Khetrapal Singh was speaking at a global meeting on malaria held in the national capital.

Plasmodium vivax is a protozoal parasite and a human pathogen. While the most frequent and widely distributed cause of recurring malaria, P. vivax is one of the five species of malaria parasites that commonly infect humans.

According to WHO, of the 18.9 million P. vivax malaria cases reported in 2012, nearly 13 million were from countries in the southeast Asia Region, including India.

“We need targeted strategies for P. vivax malaria which presents distinct challenges for control and elimination compared to P. falciparum. It is proving to be an extremely difficult parasite as it does not readily respond to the existing control measures and has the ability to remain hidden and beyond the reach of the currently available diagnostic tools and medication,” Poonam Khetrapal Singh said.

Pointing out that P. vivax malaria was now the only existing cause of malaria in countries that have eliminated P. falciparum malaria, Poonam Khetrapal Singh said: “More than a third of the world’s population, mostly in Asia and Latin America, is at risk of P. vivax malaria.”

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