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