Pune: Malaria eradication is one of the top priorities of the government, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Monday, and reaffirmed the Centre's resolve to also eliminate diseases like tuberculosis, encephalitis and 'kala azar'. There are a couple of diseases which are on the radar of the health ministry and malaria is one of them, he said. "We are working towards ending malaria as soon as possible," the minister told reporters here. "Similarly, we are aiming at eradicating leprosy, encephalitis and kala azar (visceral leishmaniasis). These are on high priority. Malaria is one of the topmost priorities," he said. The minister said the international target set for eradication of tuberculosis (TB) is 2030, but the Union government wants to eliminate it by 2025. The World Health Organisation (WHO) had set 2030 as the target, as part of its 'End TB Strategy' adopted in the World Health Assembly in 2014. Asked about the health issues being faced by the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the minister said the government had done a lot in the past five years to address them and more was in store. "The government is keen to address every issue in Jammu and Kashmir, which includes health as well. In the last five years, the government did so much in the Valley. We are establishing the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) (at Samba in Jammu and Pulwama in Kashmir)," he said. He expressed confidence that development in Jammu and Kashmir in next five years would make people there wonder why there was a need for Article 370 in the first place. The Centre recently abrogated Article 370 which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir. The minister was interacting with mediapersons on the sidelines of the inauguration of a new vaccine research and development plant at the Serum Institute of India here.
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