In order to eliminate malaria from India by 2030, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), along with several national and international organisations, will launch Malaria Elimination Research Alliance India (MERA INDIA). ICMR is already undertaking research projects in Jabalpur and Punjab, researchers told The Pioneer.
“We already have National Malaria Eradication Programme (NEDP) In India. The alliance will find what the various gaps in the programme are. We will identify various needs of the programme and make much focused research projects,” said Dr Manju Rahi, Scientist, ICMR. MERA India will find better drugs and diagnostics for Malaria as one of its focus areas, she added.
Laying emphasis on the two projects, Dr Rajni Kant, Head of Department (HOD), Research Management, Policy, Planning & Coordination, ICMR said, “As a part of Malaria Elimination Demonstration Programme (MEDP), we identified two places, Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh where malaria is highly endemic and Punjab where malaria is less endemic. We are researching on how malaria can be controlled in highly endemic areas and can be eliminated in less endemic areas.” In Mandla, Jabalpur, they will eliminate malaria in three years, he added.
The successful strategies used in these models will be proposed to National Vector Borne Diseases Control Programme (NVBDCP) for nationwide adoption, said Dr Rahi. NVBDCP will be a part of the alliance.
While major stakeholders of the alliance will be union and state health ministries and National Programmes, medical colleges, National Institute of Malaria Research (NIMR), World Health Organisation (WHO), Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) and several Multi National Companies (MNCs) will also be made partners.
“Organisations like ours can only conduct research or make policies but we don't make medicines or medical equipments. So, the companies come under corporate social responsibility. These will be made partners to provide several drugs and repellents. MMV can come up with newer drugs,” said Kant
The alliance will further focus on facilitating a round table discussion among the organisations to avoid duplication of work, he added, “Every organisation has a particular focus area. So, the work will be distributed according to the expertise. This will be more efficient and will prevent duplication of the work,” said the HOD.
The Alliance will be launched most probably on November 15 as it marks the foundation day of ICMR.
In Southeast region, so far only two countries have been declared malaria free. While the firs one is Maldives, Sri Lanka was declared malaria free on September 5, 2016.