National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme director Dr A.C. Dhariwal defends govt numbers on malaria. Excerpts:
The Million Death Study says two lakh people die of malaria every year in India.
The methodology used by the report published in Lancet has been rebutted by us and the WHO. We don’t agree with the figures. Verbal autopsy depends on family members of the deceased recalling symptoms from an earlier time. How accurately they can do so after two years is a big question. Malaria deaths lie somewhere in between what Lancet says and what we currently estimate.
But MDS reported more malaria deaths in the same regions where the govt reports higher malaria cases.
True, routine reports of malaria incidence and deaths here are underestimated but this study needs to be validated.
Didn’t MDS clarify that malaria deaths don’t happen in the same places as meningitis, dengue or typhoid?
In fact, overall numbers actually show a decline in malaria incidence as well as deaths. We’re framing a new methodology for data. Rapid diagnostic kits, long-lasting medicated nets, and latest treatments such as artemesinin combination therapy have helped control the disease.
When will your figures be updated?
We are working out the details right now.