The sixth Millennium Development Goal (MDG) is to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases by 2015. But, UNDP’s MDG report, 2010 shows a very slow pace of progress on the front of combating HIV/AIDS. The report cites, “new infections have peaked, the number of people living with the virus is still rising, largely due to the life-sustaining impact of anti-retroviral therapy. An estimated 33.4 million people were living with HIV in 2008.”
However, all is not well with combating HIV/AIDS in India. According to an estimate, around 2.3 million people are currently living with HIV in India. In 2006 UNAIDS estimated that there were 5.6 million people, living with HIV in India. This was the highest number in the entire world. In 2007, UNAIDS and NACO agreed on a new estimate – between 2 million and 3.1 million people living with HIV. In 2008 the figure was confirmed to 2.31 million. India has the third greatest number of people living with HIV in the whole world. Of these, an estimated 39% are female and 3.5% are children. According to NACO estimates, around 2,00,000 children are living with HIV under the age of 15 in the country, while some 50,000 to 60,000 children are born with HIV each year.
Some NGOs say that the number of HIV infected people is growing, but on contrary government agencies claim that this number is coming down. According to figure released by NACO in 2008, the number of people living with HIV has declined from 2.73 million in 2002 to 2.27 million in 2008. This is an estimate of a government agency and there is some conflict between its data. In the report NACO estimated that the number of HIV infected people came down to 2.27 million. On the other hand NACO released a report with UNAIDS in 2008. According to that study, 2.31 million people in India were living with HIV at that time.
Keeping these contradictions in mind, it’s very difficult to reach at a final number. But, one thing is quite clear that a number of Indians are struggling with HIV and there lives are at risk. Now, the important question is that how put a check on this problem? Government of India is running few schemes under the aegis of NAC0 to tackle the crisis of HIV. But, every year datas are telling a different story. It clearly reflects that no significant progress is taking place on the front of HIV and with this slow pace of progress, it’s going to be very difficult to achieve MDG-6.
In MDG-6, it was also decided to combat Malaria by 2015. But, at least in India, there is no significant progress in this direction. According to official estimates, India had 1.5 million malaria cases in 2008, resulting in 924 deaths. However, various NGOs claim that the real number of malaria-related deaths in India was close to 40,000 in 2008.
Some experts believe that the under-reporting of malaria cases is one of the main reasons that India has been unable to prevent malaria or treat malaria cases. Government is yet to do something to check the problem of under reporting of malaria cases. In far flung areas, it is evident that deaths due to malaria rarely come to government records because of low level of literacy and lack of awareness. Government is yet to develop a mechanism to identify these cases and give proper treatment to those who are suffering from malaria.
It is pertinent to mention that a national malaria eradication programme was launched in 1953. At that time, some 75 million malaria cases and eight lakh deaths were estimated to be occurring in India which then had a population of about 360 million. It is quite significant to point out that in 1965-66, there were just one lakh malaria cases and deaths were completely eliminated.
But, instead of being wiped out from the country, malaria made a comeback in India. Government agencies estimated 924 malaria related deaths in 2008. According to figures published by the Union Government’s National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme, there were over 1.5 million cases of malaria and 1,068 deaths in 2009. According to WHO’s World Malaria Report 2008, there had been 10.6 million cases of malaria and 15,000 deaths from the disease in India during 2006. Government agencies estimated malaria cases around 1.8 million and deaths at about 1,700 for that year.
MDG was decided in the year of 2000. In that year there were over two million malaria cases. In 2007, it came down to 1.51 million. But, in next two years the number of malaria related cases surged and reached to 1.53 million in 2009, according to health ministry estimates. If this trend continues, it’s going to be impossible for India to achieve MDG-6 by 2015.
This is the sixth article of a series on MDG. The next will appear on Friday.
You can also read previous posts here-