'Post-disease complications barrier for complete elimination of Kala Azar,' says MSF

Hajipur, Bihar (ISJ): Post Kala Azar complications in India come in the way of India achieving complete elimination of the disease by the targeted 2015, warns international medical humanitarian organisation, Doctors without Borders or Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF). Post Kala Azar Dermal Leishmaniasis or PKDL is where patients develop skin lesions in the form of rashes and boils on the skins, usually six months to one year after treatment for the disease is over.

According to World Health Organisation, 5-10 per cent of Kala Azar patients in India develop PKDL.

An estimated 1.3 million new cases of Kala Azar is reported every year, according to WHO's latest report on Vector Borne Diseases, out of which 20-30 thousand people die. Though Kala Azar is found in more than 60 countries, with a total of 200 million people at risk, more than 90 per cent of the cases occur in just six countries ? Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sudan, Ethiopia and Brazil. In the South Eastern Asia, India bears the highest burden of the disease, with Bihar reporting 80-90 per cent of cases and 34.65 million people are at risk.

"Although PKDL is not dangerous for the patient, it can be highly infectious as parasites may be present in the raised areas of the skin, acting as a major reservoir for the transmission of Kala Azar," said Dr. Prince Mathew, Deputy Medical Coordinator of MSF in India told Indian Science Journal.

MSF asked the central Health Ministry and Bihar government to step up awareness and formulate an effective protocol for the diagnosis and management of PKDL. "Control of Kala Azar in the long run requires control of PKDL," said Joao Antunes, MSF's Field Coordinator in Hajipur.

Most of the Kala Azar cases in Bihar are reported from 11 northern districts ? Araria, Darbhanga, East Champaran, Madhepura, Muzaffarpur, Purnia, Saharsa, Samastipur, Saran, Sitamarhi and Vaishali.

Kala Azar is caused is a parasitic disease caused by Leishmania protozoan and transmitted by sandflies. It is one of the neglected tropical diseases, which can be fatal if not treated. The symptoms of the disease include prolonged fever, weight loss, swelling of liver and spleen and anaemia.


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