MSF launches intervention in Mumbai, India, to tackle sharp malaria increase

“Last year, MSF successfully treated over one million malaria patients in 30 different countries,” said Tiago Dal Molin. "MSF’s project coordinator in Mumbai. "We are pleased to share our resources and expertise with the Mumbai authorities. It is crucial that health staff can give a correct diagnosis so that patients can be treated appropriately. The diagnostic tests that we provide are reliable, easy to use and require just one drop of blood to give results."

MSF is responding to a request from the Ministry of Health to reinforce the supply of treatment for the falciparum strand of malaria, which is the most deadly form of the disease and constitutes approximately 10 to 15 percent of all cases in Mumbai. The diagnostic tests that MSF provides are an efficient way of identifying which strand of malaria the patient is infected with.

The most affected areas of the city are home to half a million people. There, the 14,724 recorded malaria cases for the first six months of 2010 is nearly equal to the number of cases recorded for the whole of last year. This indicates a marked increase in the number of people infected.

“Some of the most vulnerable people are the migrants in Mumbai who work in construction labour. They often sleep close to construction sites where there is a lot of stagnant water following the heavy rains," added Dal Molin.

MSF teams already working in an HIV treatment project in Mumbai are providing 100,000 diagnostic kits and 3,700 treatment kits to 64 health centres in the city. MSF will also provide training for health centre staff in diagnosing and treating the disease.

Despite improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of malaria, the disease continues to kill almost one million people around the world every year.

“The disease is transmitted by infected mosquitoes, and areas with stagnant water are usually ideal breeding grounds. Recent heavy rains in Mumbai are likely to be the cause of the current rise in malaria,” said MSF’s Sanjana Maurya, who is supervising the intervention.