WHO disputes Lancet's report on number of malaria deaths in India

Washington, Oct 15 (ANI): The World Health Organization has disputed the findings of a study on malaria that claimed the number of Indians dying from the mosquito-borne disease each year 13 times higher than the United Nations health agency's estimate.

The study was published in the British medical journal Lancet.

The research claimed that malaria causes 200,000 deaths in India every year. However, the WHO estimates that 15,000 malarial deaths take place each year in India.

Lancet said researchers from outside India were sent to 6,671 districts of the country to examine 122,000 premature deaths between the years 2001 and 2003.

The WHO, however, expressed serious doubts about the number of malaria deaths identified by the Lancet research team.

"The new study uses verbal autopsy method which is suitable only for diseases with distinctive symptoms and not for malaria," the Wall Street Journal quoted WHO's India representative Nata Menabde as saying in an email statement.

The WHO said it takes into account only confirmed cases of malaria and surveys those using healthcare facilities.

Lancet said the determinations made by its field researchers were reviewed by two of 130 trained doctors for all the 6,671 districts who determined whether or not the person had died from malaria.

The data concluded that 205,000 deaths before the age of 70, mainly in rural areas, were caused by malaria each year - 55,000 in early childhood, 30,000 among children ages five to 14 and 120,000 people 15 and older.

"Malaria has symptoms common with many other diseases and cannot be correctly identified by the local population.

"The findings of the study cannot be accepted without further validation," added Menabde. (ANI)

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