Active Engagement of Private Healthcare Providers Is Needed to Propel Malaria Elimination in India

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  • 1 Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), V. Ramalingaswami Bhawan, P.O. Box No. 4911, Ansari Nagar, New Delhi, 110 029, India;
  • | 2 Academic Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research (AcSIR), Ghaziabad, India;
  • | 3 ICMR National Institute of Malaria Research, Sector 8, Dwarka, New Delhi 110 077, India;
  • | 4 Group Leader, Structural Parasitology, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Aruna Asaf Ali Marg, New Delhi- 110 067, India

Malaria is a major public health concern in India. Despite a remarkable decline in overall malaria cases and deaths over the past several years, the caseload is still substantial. India’s commitment towards malaria elimination by 2030 requires several additional measures for its achievement. The country’s malaria data are collated from the public health sector only by the aggregated paper-based surveillance system, which is considered weak because it captures only a minuscule percentage (8% as per the World Malaria Report 2017). The absence of private-sector data is a serious caveat in India’s malaria epidemiological scenario. The private healthcare sector (trained and untrained) is a major provider to communities in malaria-endemic areas. It is increasingly recognized that the involvement of the private healthcare sector is crucial for understanding the complete epidemiological picture and targeting elimination strategies accordingly as is being done for tuberculosis in India. Active involvement and alignment of the private sector to the government program of the private sector can be fostered by assessing the presence of the private healthcare sector via landscaping exercise, establishing linkages between the two sectors, incentivization, and encouraging reporting via user-friendly online and offline systems. There are challenges and barriers to the successful adoption of the private healthcare providers in the fold of the national malaria control program; at the same time, it is a critical step that will propel malaria elimination plans of India.

Author Notes

Address correspondence to Manju Rahi, Indian Council of Medical Research, V. Ramalingaswami Bhawan, P.O. Box No. 4911, Ansari Nagar, New Delhi, 110 029, India. E-mail: drmanjurahi@gmail.com

Authors’ addresses: Manju Rahi, Indian Council of Medical Research, Division of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases, New Delhi, Delhi, India, E-mail: drmanjurahi@gmail.com. Amit Sharma, National Institute of Malaria Research, ICMR-National Institute of Medical Research, New Delhi, Delhi, India, E-mail: directornimr@gmail.com.

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