Govt turns to private players to fund its anti-malaria drive

  • Himani Chandna, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 21, 2016 11:51 IST
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Reeling under the severe fund shortage for its malaria-elimination programmes, the Union government has roped in India’s biggest drugmaker Sun Pharma for monetary assistance and medicines.

Sun Pharma, which makes anti-malaria drug Synriam, is expected to sign a public-private-partnership agreement on April 25.

“Detailed survey covering high-malaria-prevalence states such as Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Jharkhand, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Jammu & Kashmir and North Eastern States is currently in progress to identify locations where this PPP initiative can be launched,” said a senior official at the health ministry.

Sun Pharma is not alone. Earlier this month, Tata Trusts signed a pact with the Odisha government to eliminate Malaria from the state by 2030.

“Government currently spends mere Rs 500 crore annually for anti-malaria initiatives whereas the budget should be over Rs 5,000 crore. Hence, we can undertake domestic fund raising through private sector involvement only,” the official said.

According to a study done by the Institute of Economic Growth in 2014, the total economic burden due to malaria in India could be around $1.94 billion (around Rs 13,000 crore). As per National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme, the number of annual malaria cases in India is about 9.7 million with about 40,297 deaths .

The agreement is expected to be signed by Sun Pharma’s managing director, Dilip Shanghvi. Sun Pharma, however, refused to comment.

“Sun Pharma will be meeting the government during the coming weekend for budgetary discussions and their plans to support the initiative,” said another official at the health ministry.

The over five-year long project aims to eliminate malaria in targeted locations as well as sustain its malaria-free conditions. Such PPP projects are also expected to be replicated across India in a phased manner.

As per government estimates, India accounts for around 70% of malaria cases as well as malaria deaths in South East Asian countries. Around 91% of the country’s population is at risk of malaria, with 14% being at high risk. Only 9% of India’s population lives in Malaria free areas.

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