The Government has set the target to eliminate Kala-azar by next year from the country. In a written reply in Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar said, out of 633 Kala-azar endemic blocks, 625 blocks have achieved the elimination target last year.
Dr. Pawar said, World Health Organisation (WHO) Neglected Tropical Diseases Road map has the target set for Kala-azar elimination is 2030.
Kala-azar or Visceral Leishmaniasis is a protozoan parasitic disease, spread by sandfly bites. Sandflies are brown in colour and have hairs on their bodies. The flies are infected with the parasite called ‘leishmania donovani’.
The disease affects some of the poorest people and is linked to malnutrition, population displacement, poor housing, a weak immune system and a lack of financial resources. Leishmaniasis is also linked to environmental changes such as deforestation, and urbanisation, according to WHO.
In 2020, more than 90 per cent of new cases reported to WHO occurred in 10 countries: Brazil, China, Ethiopia, Eritrea, India, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen.
- Kala-azar is a slow progressing indigenous disease caused by a protozoan parasite of genus Leishmania
- In India Leishmania donovani is the only parasite causing this disease
- The parasite primarily infects reticuloendothelial system and may be found in abundance in bone marrow, spleen and liver.