Drug major Sun Pharmaceutical Industries today entered into a partnership with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Madhya Pradesh government for a malaria eradication programme and other innovation in preventive health measures.

Under the public-private-partnership stakeholders will jointly undertake malaria control and elimination programme by setting-up management and technical committees to provide oversight for disease surveillance and elimination.

“Through our Malaria Free India initiative we aim to achieve zero malaria incidences in more than 1,200 villages of Mandla district of Madhya Pradesh by FY21,” Sun Pharma Managing Director Dilip Shanghvi said here at the launch of the partnership.

The experience gained from Mandla project will guide the development of broader plans for malaria elimination in Madhya Pradesh as well as other high malaria endemic states in India, he added.

Stressing on the need for taking up such an initiative, Shanghvi said: “Malaria is a major public health problem. It is known to impede development, saving and investment as well as worker productivity in the form of absenteeism. All this has an adverse impact on per-capita gross domestic product.”

ICMR Director General Indian Council Soumya Swaminathan said malaria is not uniformly distributed in India and six locations —— Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Northeastern states —— are responsible for over 60 per cent malaria in the country.

“This project aims to demonstrate that it is feasible to eliminate malaria from a high endemic district, and will hopefully become a pathfinder for the rest of the country,” Swaminathan said.

It is also a unique model of collaboration between the central and state governments, a private pharma company and ICMR, and could pave the way for more private investment in public health, she added.

“The proposed public-private-partnership for malaria elimination will use the same available and tested strategies of case management, intense surveillance and vector control by using indoor residual sprays and long-lasting insecticide impregnated bednets,” Swaminathan added.

Madhya Pradesh Health & Family Welfare Minister Narottam Mishra said: “I hope that this collaboration, which is starting from district Mandla, will expand to other districts and enable us to achieve the ambitious goals we have set for ourselves.”

To achieve the ‘Malaria Free India’ goals, Sun Pharma will establish a not-for-profit foundation, the company said, adding the Foundation would operate as an independent entity by engaging national and international experts as knowledge partners for the project while remaining accountable to the Malaria Free India public-private-partnership stakeholders.

A team of over 200 members will be part of the implementation of this demonstration project, it added.