Dr Prabhat Jha led the Million Death Study (MDS) into the causes of malaria deaths, in collaboration with the Registrar General of India. Excerpts:
Your method, “verbal autopsy”, where questions are put to a deceased person’s family, has been criticised.
We used a rigorous system to establish that 2,00,000 people died in India of malaria. You have to see where the objections are coming from: in any government, when you independently measure things that matter, it gets people upset.
Is Indian healthcare unable to handle malaria?
The Indian system is actually very good at treating malaria—it tests a large number, 10 crore, every year and of the 2 million-odd cases detected, very few die. But ours is not a study of properly treated malaria cases. We look at how some 85 per cent of deaths still occur at home. So if you die away from a health facility, you fall out of the official system that keeps a record of your illness. We were able to demonstrate how misleading hospital...