London: The world may be able to completely eradicate malaria -- a deadly mosquito-borne disease -- within the next 30 years, partly due to improved coverage of current interventions, according to a study published in The Lancet journal.

The study found that more than half of the world's countries are malaria-free today, encouraging discussions about completely eradicating the disease.

The report compiled by a diverse range of experts including malariologists, biomedical scientists, economists, and health policy experts, condenses available evidence with the latest epidemiological and financial analyses and demonstrates that with the right tools, strategies, and sufficient funding, elimination of the disease is possible by 2050.

The authors used new modelling methods to predict how prevalent and intense malaria could be in 2030 and 2050.

Their analyses indicate that socioeconomic and environmental trends, together with improved coverage of current malaria interventions, will "lead to low levels of malaria that persist in pockets across roughly ten countries in equatorial Africa in 2050.

The report notes that communities plagued by malaria can choose to commit to a time-bound eradication goal with purpose, urgency, and dedication, instead of gradual efforts to reduce malaria, which comes with the constant threat of resurgence, and a steeping struggle against drug and insecticide resistance.

"For too long, malaria eradication has been a distant dream, but now we have evidence that malaria can and should be eradicated by 2050," said Richard Feachem, Director of the Global Health Group at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in the US.

While global malaria incidence and death rates declined by 36 and 60 per cent respectively since the year 2000, the advancements are threatened by recent plateaus in global funding, together with a rise of malaria cases in 55 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America, says the report.

The authors also expressed concern about parasite and vector resistance to currently available drugs and insecticides.

There are still more than 200 million cases of malaria reported annually around the world, claiming nearly 50,000 lives, according to the authors.

They add that malaria continues to trap countries in cycles of inequity, with 85 per cent of global deaths reported in 2017 coming from 29 nations.

"Despite unprecedented progress, malaria continues to strip communities around the world of promise and economic potential. This is particularly true in Africa, where just five countries account for nearly half of the global burden," said Winnie Mpanju-Shumbusho, Co-chair of The Lancet Commission on malaria eradication.

To achieve eradication within the timeline, the Commission urges that specific and deliberate actions at country, regional and global levels must be taken -- with three ways to accelerate the decline in malaria cases worldwide.

First, the Commission suggests that the world must manage and implement current malaria control programmes better with improved use of existing tools -- what it calls the "software of eradication."

Second, it highlights the need for better "hardware of eradication" with the development and supply of innovative tools that can overcome the biological hurdles in eradication.

And lastly, the authors say that malaria endemic countries and donors must provide more funds for ultimately eradicating the disease.

As the cost of ridding the world of the disease is unknown, the Commission suggests that an annual increase of about USD two billion would accelerate the progress.

The report emphasises the crucial role played by regional management approaches in eliminating malaria.

Eradication programmes, according to the report, should avoid being overly academic, and employ professionals from the world of implementation, rather than just research, adding that contributions from business schools and the private sector are crucial.

The authors note that training programmes should emphasise practical leadership and management skills which they say would create a global network of malaria eradication professionals over time.

The Commission also anticipates a revolution in the collection, analysis, and use of data about malaria cases in the next decade with profound effects on programme management and effectiveness.

From the simulations, the authors also report very high levels of malaria control with the combined use of fast diagnostic tests, mosquito nets, indoor spraying of pesticides, and a combination therapy based on the anti-malarial drug Artemisinin.

And to achieve effective spraying of pesticides, the report suggests that a more sustainable approach, with greater benefit to the local economy, is for the health ministries of endemic countries to contract with local for-profit or not-for-profit entities.

"This report shows that eradication is possible within a generation. But to achieve this common vision, we simply cannot continue with a business as usual approach. The world is at a tipping point, and we must instead challenge ourselves with ambitious targets and commit to the bold action needed to meet them," Feachem added.

 

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New Delhi: As Mahendra Singh Dhoni bids adieu to international cricket, here is a look at the career highlights of India's most successful captain, who led the country to two World Cup trophies.

December 2004: Dhoni makes his international debut against Bangladesh in an ODI at Chittagong.

October 2005: Promoted up the order to accelerate scoring, Dhoni smashes an unbeaten 183 off 145 balls, the then record of the highest individual score in ODI cricket in the second innings. Dhoni also wins Man of the Series award after India's 3-0 triumph in the five-match rubber.

December 2005: Dhoni makes his Test debut against Sri Lanka in Chennai.

September 2007: Dhoni takes over the reins of ODI captaincy from Rahul Dravid.

September 2007: Dhoni equals Adam Gilchrist's international record for most dismissals (6) in an innings in ODIs. Dhoni also becomes captain of the Indian squad for the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa. He leads a young Indian side to victory against Pakistan in the final. He takes the risk of picking an inexperienced pacer Joginder Sharma instead of Harbhajan Singh to bowl the last over that eventually pays off.

August 2008: Dhoni leads India to its first-ever bilateral ODI series victory in Sri Lanka.

August 2008: Dhoni wins the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award.

November 2008: Dhoni makes his debut as full-time Test captain of India during the fourth and final Test against Australia at Nagpur, replaces Anil Kumble who was injured in the third Test.

December 2008: Dhoni wins the ICC ODI Player of the Year honour.

March 2009: Dhoni leads India to its first bilateral ODI series victory in New Zealand.

April 2009: Dhoni honoured with the Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian honour.

December 2009: Under Dhoni's captaincy, India tops the ICC Test cricket rankings for the first time.

December 2009: Dhoni retains his ICC ODI Player of the year award, becomes the first player to win it twice.

May 2010: Dhoni leads Chennai Super Kings to their maiden Indian Premier League title. CSK beat Mumbai Indians by 22 runs in Mumbai.

April 2011: Dhoni plays his most memorable match-winning unbeaten knock -- 91 off 79 -- balls against Sri Lanka in the World Cup final to help India lift the trophy after 28 years. He finishes the match with a huge six over long-on off Nuwan Kulasekara and wins the Man of the Match award.

May 2011: With Dhoni as captain, Chennai Super Kings retain the IPL, beat Royal Challengers Banglore by 58 runs in the final in Bengaluru.

November 2011: The Indian Territorial Army confers the honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel on Dhoni.

March 2013: Dhoni becomes the most successful Indian Test captain, eclipses Sourav Ganguly's record of 21 victories from 49 Tests.

June 2013: India wins the ICC Champions Trophy under Dhoni's captaincy, beats England by five runs in the final. Dhoni becomes the first captain to win all three ICC trophies.

February 2013: Dhoni powers his way to his first double hundred in Tests. He scores 224 off 365 balls, most runs by an Indian wicketkeeper in an innings surpassing Budhi Kunderan's 192.

March 2013: Under Dhoni's captaincy, India beats Australia 4-0 at home for the first time in a Test series.

April 2018: Dhoni receives the Padma Bhushan, India's third-highest civilian honour.

May 2018: Under Dhoni's captaincy, Chennai Super Kings win their third IPL title by defeating Sunrisers Hyderabad by eight wickets.