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

News-CRUX-10     13th June 2024        
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Context: The World Health Organization (WHO) has introduced a new framework aimed at guiding health authorities, policymakers, and stakeholders in the eradication of kala azar disease in eastern Africa.


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.
  • 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.

oIn 2022, eastern Africa accounted for 73% of the global VL caseload, with 50% of cases occurring in children under 15 years old.

oBetween 2004 and 2008, Bangladesh, India, and Nepal collectively accounted for 70% of the global VL caseload.

oIn 2023, WHO announced that Bangladesh had successfully eradicated VL, becoming the first country worldwide to achieve this milestone.

  • India’s Status: India has achieved its target to eliminate visceral leishmaniasis, according to data from the National Centre for Vector Borne Diseases Control (NCVBDC).

Outline of Framework

  • The new framework for eastern Africa presents a similar opportunity for the nine endemic countries, offering a comprehensive approach for countries to implement strategies, assess progress, identify gaps, and build capacity.
  • Five Main Strategies for VL Elimination:

oEarly Diagnosis and Treatment

oIntegrated Vector Management

oEffective Surveillance

oAdvocacy, Social Mobilisation, and Partnership-Building

oImplementation and Operational Research.

  • Regional Targets by 2030:

oReduction in VL Incidence: Achieving a 90 per cent reduction in VL incidence in the eastern Africa sub-region to fewer than 1,500 cases per year by 2030.

oPrompt Detection and Treatment: Ensuring detection and treatment of 90 per cent of cases within 30 days of onset of symptoms by 2030.

oElimination of VL Deaths in Children: Achieving a 100 per cent decline in VL deaths in children by 2030.

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