Elimination of Kala Azar

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    Context

    • The Union Health Ministry reported that India is committed to eliminating Kalaa-azar from the country by 2023.

    About Kala Azar: 

    • Kala-Azar or Visceral Leishmaniasis is a slow progressing indigenous condition that is caused by a protozoan parasite. 
    • Kala-azar is one of the most lethal and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).
    • The parasite infects the reticuloendothelial system and may be found in abundance in bone marrow, spleen, and liver.
    • Kala-azar is the second deadliest parasitic killer in the world after Malaria.
    • Distribution:
    • Global: About 90% of global cases of Kala-azar were reported from eight countries: Brazil, Eritrea, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan in 2021. 
    • India: Contributing 11.5 pc of total cases reported globally.
    • Symptoms
    • Recurring fever with a double rise in temperature.
    • Loss of appetite and weight loss.  
    • Weakness and fatigue.
    • Dry, thin, scaly skin, and hair loss. 
    • Grayish discoloration of the skin of hands, feet, face, and abdomen in light-skinned people, hence the name kala-azar or black fever.
    • Rapid deficiency in red blood cells or hemoglobin.
    • Enlargement of the spleen.
    • Liver enlargement.

    Government Efforts:

    • The World Health Organisation (WHO) Neglected Tropical Diseases Road map has the target set for Kala-azar elimination in 2030. 
    • Government of India (GOI) launched a centrally sponsored Kala-azar control programme in the endemic states in the year 1990-91.
    • GOI is directly working with development partners such as Bill Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF),  National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) to eliminate Kala Azar from India.
    • On a monthly basis Kala-azar elimination is being reviewed by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) as well as higher officials of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
    • The Centre is supporting the states in active case detection, surveillance, treatment, and supply of diagnostic kits, medicines, sprays, etc.

    Success:

    • Elimination status: Less than one case per 10,000
    • Progress: 98.7 per cent decline in cases of Kala-azar (2007 to 2022) in India.
    • Kala Azar endemic states: Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
    • Currently, more than 90% of the cases are contributed by Bihar and Jharkhand. 
    • Uttar Pradesh (2019) and West Bengal (2017) states have achieved their elimination targets at the block level.
    • Only one block (Littipara) of Pakur district, Jharkhand is in the endemic category (1.23 cases/10,000 population).

    Source: PIB