India may have to ramp up its funding to eliminate malaria as several international agencies are expected to divert finances to more demanding areas, including non-communicable diseases and maternal and child care.

Since 2000, global malaria deaths have fallen 58%, and half of the world's nations are now malaria-free. This is likely to prompt many multilateral organisations to shift focus from malaria to other priority health areas highlighted under the sustainable development goals (SDGs) recently adopted by the UN. According to sources, many organisations have already started contemplating in this direction.

But this may not augur well for India, which continues to account for the third highest number of malaria incidence in the world. According to estimates of the World Health Organization, India is among countries which lag (32%) in reducing malaria incidence (between 2000 and 2015) in comparison to the rest of the world. Though malaria deaths worldwide have fallen by 60% from 8.39 lakh in 2000 to 4.38 lakh in 2015, India continues to witness a significant rise in mortality associated with the disease.

The National Health Profile, 2015, released last week by the health ministry, shows that the number of cases as well as deaths due to the disease dropped significantly for three years since 2010. However, they again jumped between 2013 and 2014. India recorded an estimated 535 malaria deaths in 2014, as compared to 440 in 2013. Malaria cases also rose from 8,81,730 to 10,70,513 between 2013 and 2014.

A new report by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, released in the UN General Assembly, said malaria funding will have to be doubled over the next five years to eradicate the disease burden. Countries like India, China, Malaysia and Indonesia — experiencing rapid growth — will be expected to fund most or all of their national elimination costs over time, the report said.

Between 2000 and 2013, annual global investment in malaria grew 2,000%—from $130 million to $2.7 billion per year. This increase fueled an unprecedented scale up of malaria interventions.

Taaza Vaartha

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