Two third of malaria cases in South-East Asia occur in India. According to the World Health Organization, in 2011, 2.15 million parasitologically confirmed malaria cases were reported, with 3 countries accounting for 95% of confirmed cases: India (61%), Myanmar (22%) and Indonesia (12%). Both cases and deaths are substantially underreported but these proportions are indicative of the geographical distribution of malaria in the Region.
The substantial underreporting could prove to be an enormous problem when it comes to India’s progress in eradicating malaria. One study published in the Lancet, a British medical journal, estimates that over 205,000 deaths occur in India each year due to malaria. The WHO estimates India has around 15,000 malaria related deaths. This enormous discrepancy is a result of substantial underreporting and a large rural population who do not have access to medical treatment or diagnoses. Thus, many deaths occur at home, far out of reach from any malaria reporting facility.
According to the WHO, India is on route to lower its malaria cases by over 50%, moving it toward the “pre-elimination phase” by 2015. However, the underreporting could have drastic effects on this estimate as well as the global urgency with which we treat this problem. Increased reporting of malaria deaths could drastically change the strategies that are used to prevent malaria outbreaks in rural areas.