India’s kala-azar cases declined 98.7% since 2007

  • IASbaba
  • January 7, 2023
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In News: Around 99.8% endemic blocks in India have achieved elimination status

  • Kala-azar cases in India fell to 834 in 2022 from 44,533 in 2007 — a 98.7 per cent decline.
  • As many as 632 endemic blocks (99.8 per cent) spread across Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal have received elimination status (less than one case per 10,000).
  • Only one block (Littipara) of Pakur district, Jharkhand is in the endemic category (1.23 cases / 10,000 population)


  • Visceral leishmaniasis or kala-azar is the most serious form of the disease and as of November 2022, about 89 per cent of the global cases were reported from eight countries: Brazil, Eritrea, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan
  • India contributes 11.5 per cent of total cases reported globally.
  • The disease mainly affects poor people in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and is associated with malnutrition and poor housing, population displacement, weak immune system and lack of resources


  • After malaria, kala-azar is the deadliest parasitic disease in the world.
  • It is one of the three conditions in the disease group called leishmaniasis caused by the protozoa parasite Leishmania.
  • The parasite is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected female phlebotomine sandfly, a tiny 2-3 mm long insect vector.
  • This type of leishmaniasis affects the internal organs, usually the spleen, liver and bone marrow.
  • Some people have no symptoms. For others, symptoms may include fever, weight loss and swelling of the spleen or liver.
  • Medication exists to kill the parasites. If left untreated, severe cases are typically fatal.
    • Up to 20% of the patients who are correctly treated and cured, develop a skin condition called Post-Kala-Azar Dermal Leishmaniasis (PKDL) which surfaces within months to years after treatment.
    • These patients can contain large amounts of parasites in their skin lesions, making them an important source of transmission.

Steps being taken by India to Eliminate this Disease

  • Development of a plan for the “unreached poorest” or underprivileged sections in endemic areas.
  • Leveraging of Kala-azar elimination programme within POSHAN Abhiyaan for maximum benefit at community level.
  • Exploration of the opportunity of providing improved housing under the flagship program of the Prime Minister Awas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G), along with rural electrification, testing, treatment and periodic high-level review, incentivising through award distribution.
  • Exploration of the opportunity of providing improved housing under State Schemes.
  • Involvement of Rural Health Practitioners (RHPs)
  • Co-ordination with the rural development department and engage with Panchayati Raj functionaries for awareness, community engagement, environment management and social empowerment.
  • Supporting the states in active case detection, surveillance, treatment as well as supply of diagnostic kits, medicines, sprays.

Source: Down to Earth


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