Sri Lanka is the second country after Maldives in the WHO South-East Asia Region to be declared malaria-free.Reuters

In an effort to eliminate malaria, Union Health Minister JP Nadda on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, launched the National Framework for Malaria Elimination (NFME) 2016-2030, outlining India's strategy for elimination of the disease by 2030.

"This framework has been developed with a vision to eliminate malaria from the country and contribute to improved health and quality of life and alleviation of poverty," said Nadda, according to a statement released by the Health Ministry. Under the NFME framework, the country has been divided into three categories on the basis of annual parasite incidences and key interventions have been identified to achieve the goal.

Nadda was quoted by PTI as saying 70 percent of malaria cases and 69 percent of malaria deaths among South East Asian Region countries occur in India. "Currently, 80 percent of malaria is prevalent among 20 percent of the people classified as 'high risk', although approximately 82 percent of the country's population lives in malaria transmission risk areas," he said.

"The objective of the framework is to reduce the incidence of malaria to less than one case per 1,000 people per year in all states and UTs by 2024. We would ask all state governments to include the malaria eradication programme in their policy matters," Nadda said. Preventing retransmission of malaria in areas where it has been eliminated and maintaining malaria-free status of the country by 2030 are its other objectives.

Health & Family Welfare Secretary BP Sharma highlighted the importance of the segmented approach in tackling the issue, saying eliminating Malaria would result in reduction in expenditure on the disease control programme, and will help in reducing out-of-pocket expenditure too. He also added that India has a sturdy health system with trained manpower, and while diagnostic kits and medicines are available everywhere, the delivery mechanism has to be streamlined for better outcomes.

Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance (APLMA) envoy Dr Nafsiah Mboi said the launch of the document is a significant effort in the push for malaria elimination that would affect goals of the region as well as the world, adding that it would help build systems to fight other mosquito-borne illnesses as well.

Emphasising the importance of this effort for the Asia Pacific region, WHO South-East Asia Regional Director Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh said investment on malaria control and prevention activities will result in almost 20-fold gains in reducing healthcare cost in addition to bringing down the burden of diseases.