KALA AZAR (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Sci and Tech)

News-CRUX-10     11th April 2024        
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Context: India has achieved its target to eliminate visceral leishmaniasis, commonly known as kala-azar, according to data from the National Centre for Vector Borne Diseases Control (NCVBDC).

Kala Azar

  • About: Visceral leishmaniasis (VL), also known as kala-azar or "black fever", is the most severe form of leishmaniasis and, without proper diagnosis and treatment, is associated with high fatality( 95%).
  • Caused by: Leishmaniasis is a disease caused by protozoan parasites of the genus Leishmania.
  • Symptoms: Include fever, weight loss, fatigue, anaemia, and substantial swelling of the liver and spleen.
  • TreatmentKala-azar Drugs available in India
  • Global status: VL is the second-largest parasitic killer in the world (after malaria), responsible for an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 deaths each year worldwide.
  • India’s Status: India aims to sustain its momentum over the next three years to receive WHO certification. 

oEndemic: Kala-azar is endemic in India, mainly in four states Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

Indian government initiatives

  • National Kala-azar Elimination programme: To improve the health status of vulnerable groups and at-risk population living in

oTarget: To reduce the annual incidence of Kala-azar to less than one per 10,000 populations at block PHC level. (Achieved successfully)

  • The National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP): An umbrella programme for the prevention and control of vector-borne diseases, including Visceral leishmaniasis, known as kala-azar (KA) in India. 
  • ASHA worker: The ASHA network plays a role in ensuring PKDL patients complete their treatment, which involves a 12-week course of the drug Miltefosine.
  • Global level initiatives: WHO's new roadmap for 2021–2030 aims to address neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by preventing, controlling, eliminating, and eradicating a set of 20 diseases categorized as neglected tropical diseases.
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