A 30-year-old man from east Delhi died of cerebral malaria at Safdarjung Hospital on Sunday. The fatality, reported yesterday by the hospital, was believed to be the first death due to malaria in the city.
However, Municipal Health Officer of South Delhi Municipal Corporation, Dr P K Hazarika, when contacted today, said, "another death due to malaria had occurred in July, but it was reported much later."
"A 62-year-old man from Jyoti Nagar had died of malarial complications at AIIMS in July," he said. Authorities at AIIMS, however, immediately could not comment on this case. Praveen Sharma, a resident of Mandawali, died at Safdarjung Hospital after suffering multi-organ failure triggered by malarial complications.
Incidentally, the second death comes at a time when the neighbouring country Sri Lanka has been declared malaria-free by the World Health Organisation. The WHO made the declaration on September 5 and called it a "remarkable public health achievement" by the island nation.
Sri Lanka is the second country in the WHO South-East Asia Region to eliminate malaria after Maldives. SDMC, which tabulates vector-borne disease cases in the national capital has reported 19 cases of malaria in Delhi till September 3.
According to the website of National Vector-Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), no death has occurred due to malaria in Delhi in five years from 2012 till July. However, the data does not specify up to which date that month.
Malaria is caused by Plasmodium parasites. The parasites are spread to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. According to WHO, about 3.2 billion people nearly half of the world's population are at risk of malaria.
In 2015, there were roughly 214 million malaria cases and an estimated 4,38,000 malaria deaths globally. In India too malaria is a major public health concern. Over 560 people died due to the disease in 2014, 440 in 2013 and 519 in 2012, according to NVBDCP.
"About 95 per cent of India's population resides in malaria endemic areas, and 80 per cent of the malaria cases reported in the country are confined to areas consisting of 20 per cent of the population residing in tribal, hilly, difficult and inaccessible areas," IMA's President-elect and cardiologist Dr K K Aggarwal claimed.