IMD to start issuing predictions on malaria outbreak



The India Meteorological Department (IMD) will start issuing forecasts for malaria outbreaks from the next monsoon, Ministry of Earth Sciences secretary M Rajeevan said on Saturday.

Delivering a lecture on ‘recent advances in weather and climate predictions’, organised by the Indian Academy of Sciences, Rajeevan said India also plans to ramp up its high-performance computing (HPC) facility from the existing capacity of 10 petaflops to 40 petaflops, a step that will significantly help in improving weather predictions.

Currently, India is only next to the US, the UK, and Japan in HPC.

A report released by the Ministry of Earth Sciences this week said nearly Rs 990 crore spent on the National Monsoon Mission and HPC had yielded divided 50 times the investment made.

On the prediction of any vector-borne disease outbreak, the IMD studied the phenomenon of occurrence in malaria and its relationship with rainfall and temperature, Rajeevan later told PTI.

“The IMD first studied the malaria data it got from Nagpur. This can be applied to other places as well. This can give predictions on large-scale malaria outbreaks,” Rajeevan said.

He said the same technique can be applied to other monsoon-related diseases such as dengue and cholera.

The IMD will make the malaria forecast service operational by the next monsoon, he said.

Malaria is rampant in parts of Africa and sub-tropical countries.

According to the World Malaria Report 2019, 19 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and India carried almost 85 per cent of the global malaria burden.

According to the National Health Portal, the majority of malaria cases are reported from the eastern and central part of the country and from states which have a forest, hilly and tribal areas.

These states include Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and some northeastern states like Tripura, Meghalaya, and Mizoram.

In India, malaria cases have consistently declined from 2.08 million in 2001 to about 4 lakh in 2018. Of the country’s hardest hit by malaria, only India showed progress in reducing its disease burden, the NHP said.

In his lecture, Rajeevan said 90 per cent of the meteorology-related data comes from satellites. The rest of it comes from conventional sources like Doppler radars, buoys in the sea, ship and aircraft observation, and other observations. (PTI)