Malaria kills 3,000 people every day across the world, over one million people each year. Three out of four victims are children. Over 275 million cases occur each year. The disease is a serious public health problem in India -- over three million cases are reported each year. Unofficial figures claim the number is several times the official figures as thousands of cases aren't reported. In most parts of the country, periodic epidemics of malaria occur every five to seven years. The disease is much more serious in developing countries than in industrialised countries, points out the World Health Organisation (WHO). For example, tribal communities, which comprise 7.2 per cent of India's population, report 40 per cent of the cases of malaria in the country. About 25 per cent of the cases in the country are reported in Orissa, one of the poorest states.

As if this wasn't enough, the malaria parasite is fast developing resistance to the latest drugs, having already taught its genes how to digest earlier ones. Mosquitoes are finding it increasingly easier to deal with the most recent chemical sprays, which are in any case very dangerous to the environment and human health. Several countries have banned the use of pesticides like DDT. India hasn't done so as DDT remains one of the ways to deal with malaria. In his paper entitled 'Health Hazards of Mosquito Coils and Mats', V P Sharma points out that India is a major market of mosquito coils and mats.

Coils, mats, oils, creams and other forms of mosquito repellents can cause several ailments, including bronchitis, respiratory problems, eye irritation and nausea. Very little is known about the health implications of these products. If repellents have adverse health effects, then what is the answer to malaria?

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