"Globally. after an unprecedented period of success, we are no longer making progress", said Abdisalan Noor, a World Health Organization expert on malaria and lead author of the report. "Countries with weak malaria surveillance systems include India and Nigeria, two major contributors to the global burden of malaria, with 8 per cent and 16 per cent of cases, respectively, detected by the surveillance system". Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burkina Faso and India accounted for 58 per cent of all malaria deaths globally.
"India has reduced its new malaria cases by one third, and even crossed the malaria mortality targets of 2020", said Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare J.P. Nadda at a high-level round table on "Accelerating the Elimination of Malaria in the Southeast Asia Region".
And the spread of rapid diagnostic tests for malaria have likely helped to delay the development of drug resistance, by limiting the number of children who are treated for suspected, but not confirmed, cases of the disease.
"A plateau in global funding has contributed to gaps in coverage of life-saving interventions, and it will only worsen if countries don't make malaria a priority". The malaria deaths in India were only less to WHO's Africa region where the figure soared as high as 33,997 for Democratic Republic of Congo.
"In 2016, 85 per cent of estimated vivax malaria cases occurred in just five countries (Afghanistan, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia and Pakistan)", the report said. "The other countries had no major outbreaks reported", according to report.
The report also mentions between 2014 and 2016, a total of 582 million insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs) were reported by manufacturers as having been delivered globally. The WHO Global Technical Strategy for Malaria calls for reductions of at least 40% in malaria case incidence and mortality rates by the year 2020. Strains of Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes the most deadly form of the disease, have become resistant to artemisinin in Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam. It is transmitted by the infective bite of Anopheles mosquito.
Dr Abdisalan Noor, of the WHO's surveillance global malaria programme, described the findings as a "wake-up call" to action.
The first of the global targets on the path towards achieving a vision of a malaria-free world is to reduce malaria cases and deaths by 40 per cent by 2020 over 2015. The $2.7 billion invested in 2016 represents less than half of that amount. However, new responses are needed to address growing concerns over drug resistance in the Mekong region, insecticide resistance in large areas of Africa, as well as an upsurge of malaria in humanitarian hotspots including Yemen and Venezuela.
African continues to bear an estimated 90 percent of all malaria cases and deaths worldwide.
The new report also outlines additional challenges in the global malaria response, including the risks posed by conflict and crises in malaria endemic zones.
India is one of the 15 countries that carry 80% of the global disease burden, according to the report.