MERA – India: Malaria Elimination Research Alliance
The Indian Council of Medical Research has launched the ‘Malaria Elimination Research Alliance (MERA) India’ - a conglomeration of partners working on malaria control - in order to prioritise, plan and scale up research to eliminate the disease from India by 2030.
- Over the past two decades, India has made impressive progress in malaria control. The malaria burden has declined by over 80% (2.03 million cases in 2000 to 0.39 million in 2018) and malaria deaths by over 90% (932 deaths in 2000 to 85 in 2018). This success has provided a strong foundation for the commitment from the leadership of the Government of India to eliminate malaria in India by 2030.
- The National Vector Borne Diseases Control Program (NVBDCP) of India has developed a comprehensive framework to achieve the overarching vision of “Malaria free India by 2030”. The NVBDCP’s National Strategic Plan clearly recognizes the critical role of research to support and guide malaria elimination efforts. This situation highlights the need for a common platform and shared research agenda and resources through establishment of the Malaria Elimination Research Alliance (MERA) India.
Apart it some other issues encountered in elimination of malaria are following:
- Lack of awareness about vector borne diseases among people.
- Lack of government support and mismatch between need and allocated fund.
- Poor co-ordination between research and government programmes.
- Poor penetration and use of best practices across the nation.
- Lack of participation of People and use of traditional knowledge and local solutions and their replication across the nation along with requisite modifications.
Significance of MERA India
- MERA India does not intend to duplicate international efforts rather complement this on a national scale while contributing to the broader global agenda.
- The purpose of MERA India is to identify, articulate, prioritize and respond to the research needs of the country to eliminate malaria from India by 2030.
- MERA India will facilitate trans-institutional coordination and collaboration around a shared research agenda which responds to not only to programmatic challenges and addresses gaps in available tools but also proactively contribute to targeted research.
- MERA India also aims to harness and reinforce research in coordinated and combinatorial ways in order to achieve tangible impact on malaria elimination.
MERA India scheme needs to be supplemented by adopting coordinated approach, research inputs and tools which can guide national programme to develop strategies for the regular changes endemicity in the near malaria elimination era. Practices like sun down sleeve down approach should be disseminated across the nation. People should be informed about the Malaria protective measures via digital media such as small Video clips.