10/21/2010, 00.00
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Malaria kills 200,000 Indians each year, according to a new study

The World Health Organisation estimates 15,000 deaths are caused by malaria each year. However, a new study shows that most deaths occur in rural areas, where victims do not seek assistance and their death goes unrecorded.

New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A study by the Centre for Global Health Research (CGHR) in Toronto (Canada) revealed that more than 200,000 people die of malaria in India each year, far more than the 15,000 deaths estimated by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

CGHR researchers based their estimate on interviews with family members of more than 122,000 people who died between 2001 and 2003. The numbers “greatly exceed” the WHO estimates of 15,000 malaria deaths, the researchers wrote in their study, which was published today in the journal The Lancet.

Malaria infects about 250 million people every year, killing almost 1 million, mostly children in Africa, this according to the WHO. It is the world’s third-deadliest infectious disease behind AIDS and tuberculosis.

The study published by The Lancet shows instead that malaria kills far more people than previously thought, said one of the study authors, Prabhat Jha, who noted, “This is the first nationwide study that has collected information on causes of death directly from communities.”

The discrepancy is probably attributable to the fact that WHO relies on confirmed cases, with data restricted to those who seek care at health facilities. In addition, statistics are also limited to a few high prevalent States (Orissa, Chhattisgarh, and Jharkhand) and India’s northeast region.

The study reported in The Lancet found that most deaths are in rural area, where people hardly seek medical assistance.

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