Guwahati, India and Bhutan held a meeting here on Wednesday on malaria elimination in both sides of the international border.

Specific action plans for 9 districts of India and 10 districts of Bhutan along the border have been developed at the meeting.

Addressing the meeting, National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) Director Dr Neeraj Dhingra provided an overview of the progress towards malaria elimination in India by 2030.

Malaria cases in the country have reduced from over one million in 2016 to around 4,19,000 in 2018, he said.

The country aims to achieve zero indigenous case by 2027, sustain it thereafter and secure malaria-free certification by WHO in 2030, Dr Dhingra said.

He also appreciated WHO for supporting and coordinating the meeting between India and Bhutan.

Union Health Joint Secretary Rekha Shukla said though India made a massive improvement in eliminating malaria, more needs to be done to contribute towards eliminating it in Bhutan and other bordering countries.

In doing so, she emphasized the importance of strong collaboration and people to people interaction at local level across the international borders and with other sectors.

These include real time sharing of information, joint planning, and innovative approaches to deliver the interventions and synchronization of implementation of interventions across the Indo-Bhutan border, Shukla added.

Rinzin Namgay, head of the delegation from Bhutan, said his country aims to eliminate malaria by 2020 and had only 11 locally acquired cases in 2017 and 6 in 2018.

As of September 2019, there were 6 locally acquired cases and 12 cases acquired from India, Nangay said.

The Himalayan kingdom may not be able to achieve the target by 2020 unless malaria cases on the Indian side of the border are also eliminated, he pointed out.

The two-day meeting that concluded on Wednesday had 28 participants from India, 10 from Bhutan and 4 technical staff from WHO India, SEARO and Global Malaria Program, Geneva.



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