Prelims Level
Mains Level
Prelims Syllabus : Governance, Health & Diseases Mains Syllabus : GS-II- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector or Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Context:

Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan asked the Delhi government to make malaria and dengue notifiable diseases.

What is Notifiable Disease?

  • A notifiable disease is any disease that is required by law to be reported to government authorities.
  • The collation of information allows the authorities to monitor the disease, and provides early warning of possible outbreaks.
  • The World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations, 1969 require disease reporting to the WHO in order to help with its global surveillance and advisory role.

Significance of Notifying Disease:

  • Making a disease legally notifiable by doctors and health professionals allows for intervention to control the spread of highly infectious diseases.
  • Registered medical practitioners need to notify such diseases in a proper form within three days, or notify verbally via phone within 24 hours depending on the urgency of the situation.
  • This means every government hospital, private hospital, laboratories, and clinics will have to report cases of the disease to the government.
  • The process helps the government keep track and formulate a plan for elimination and control.
  • In less infectious conditions, it improves information about the burden and distribution of disease.

Other Notified Diseases:

  • The Centre has notified several diseases such as cholera, diphtheria, encephalitis, leprosy, meningitis, pertussis (whooping cough), plague, tuberculosis, AIDS, hepatitis, measles, yellow fever, malaria dengue, etc.

Concern:

  • The onus of notifying any disease and the implementation lies with the state government.
  • Any failure to report a notifiable disease is a criminal offence and the state government can take necessary actions against defaulters.

About Malaria:

  • It is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites belonging to the Plasmodium genus, which are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. The mosquito-borne blood disease is preventable and curable.
  • Plasmodium parasite infects a variety of species and different types of Plasmodium genus replicate at different rates, changing how quickly the symptoms escalate, and the severity of the disease.

Causes of Malaria:

There are many factors that can cause malaria, such as:

  • Bitten by a malarial vector (Anopheles stephensi)
  • Use of shared and infected syringes.
  • Organ transplantation.
  • Transfusion.
  • From an infected mother to her baby during birth.
  • It is caused by the parasites –
    • Plasmodium viviax (P.vivax)
    • Plasmodium falciparum (P.falciparum)
    • Plasmodium malariae (P.malariae)
    • Plasmodium ovale (P.ovale)

Symptoms of Malaria:

Symptoms of malaria are exhibited within 7 to 18 days of being infected. Common symptoms include:

  • Fever, fatigue, chills, vomiting, and headaches
  • Diarrhoea, anaemia and muscle pain
  • Profuse sweating and convulsions
  • Bloody stools.
  • In severe cases, malaria can be devastating; it can lead to seizures, coma and eventually, death.

Vaccine:

  • The RTS,S vaccine is the first, and to date, the only, vaccine that has demonstrated that it could significantly reduce malaria in children.
  • RTS,S is a scientific name given to this malaria vaccine candidate and represents its composition.
  • It aims to trigger the immune system to defend against the first stages of malaria.
  • This is when the parasite enters the human host’s bloodstream through a mosquito bite and infects liver cells.
  • The vaccine is designed to prevent the parasite from infecting the liver.
  • The vaccine has been developed by GSK (former GlaxoSmithKline), which is donating about 10 million doses of the product for the pilot.
  • It was created in 1987 by GSK, and was subsequently developed with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • In clinical trials, the vaccine was found to prevent approximately 4 in 10 malaria cases, including 3 in 10 cases of life-threatening severe malaria.
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