Malaria deaths in India '13 times more than WHO estimate'

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London, Oct 21 (ANI): A new research has found that the number of deaths caused by malaria in India is much more than estimated.he research concludes that more than 200,000 people in country succumb to the disease and the number of deaths is 13 times more than the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates.

However, the WHO said the estimate produced by this study appears too high, reports BBC News.

As most deaths in India occur at home, without medical intervention, the cause of death is seldom medically certified.

The study deployed trained field workers to interview families and asked them to describe how their relative died followed by two doctors then reviewing each description and decided if the death was caused by malaria. This method is called verbal autopsy.

Some 122,000 premature deaths between 2001 and 2003 were investigated.

The data suggests that 205,000 deaths before the age of 70, mainly in rural areas, are caused by malaria each year whereas the WHO estimated that malaria caused between 10,000-21,000 deaths in India in 2006.

The UN health agency welcomed new efforts to estimate the number of malaria deaths.

Dr Robert Newman, the director of its global malaria programme, said, "It is vital to evaluate cause of death correctly because different diseases require different strategies for control."

Verbal autopsy, however, he said, was not a trustworthy method for counting malaria deaths because the symptoms of malaria are shared with many other common causes of acute fever.

The authors say these figures as well as global estimates require urgent revision.

Professor Prabhat Jha, director of the Centre for Global Health Research in Toronto, Canada, is one of the study's lead authors.

"Malaria kills not just children, but adults too in surprisingly large numbers. India is the most populous country where malaria is common, and it is a surprisingly common cause of death," he said.

He added that there is a real need to reconsider how malaria deaths are calculated and that similar analysis needs to be done in other highly populated malaria endemic countries.

The study is published in Lancet. (ANI)

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