The World Health Organization (WHO) has chosen Punjab as the first state in the country that can be malaria-free by 2020. The state government in collaboration with the WHO has launched a micro strategic plan to eliminate malaria. The WHO will provide technical support to the state to achieve the target by 2020. Health and Family Welfare Minister Brahm Mohindra said India had third highest burden of malaria cases in the world. However, Punjab reported only 0.1 percent of the cases in the country, he said. Earlier in 2014, the WHO had placed Punjab along with 15 other states and UT in the elimination phase. Only those states were kept in the elimination category, where incidence of malaria was less than 1 case per 1000. Most of the neighboring states Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Chandigarh were placed in that category.
Now among all these states, Punjab has been chosen as the first to declare it as malaria-free, said Dr Gagandeep Singh Grover, Program Officer, Integrated Disease Surveillance Program. The state has placed Fatehgarh Sahib, Kapurthala, Pathankot, Ropar, SBS Nagar, where number cases are very low, in the first category. WHO official Dr Henk Bekdam said Punjab was one of the 15 low transmission states where only 0.1 percent cases of malaria had been reported as compared to the rest of the country. He said there was a need for the participation of communities and general public as well for the prevention and control of malaria. He expressed hope that Punjab could be the first state in the country to achieve the target to eliminate malaria by 2020. Satish Chandra, Additional Chief Secretary, Health, said special training would be given to the district-level monitoring teams and quick diagnose and treatment would be provided to the affected patients. – Tribune India