Union Health Ministry launched the revised strategy to eradicate Kala azar from India by 2015 on 2 September 2014.
The new strategy has been developed by a core group comprising experts and officials of the Health Ministry. The roadmap document focused on efforts at the national, state, district and sub-district levels.
The new strategy involves carrying out active searches for people with symptoms of the disease in the 54 affected districts of the four states where the disease is known to strike the most. The four states are Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and the eastern part of Uttar Pradesh.
Bihar accounts for 80 percent of the kala azar cases in India. Thirty three districts in Bihar, eleven of West Bengal, four in Jharkhand and six districts of Eastern Uttar Pradesh of Bihar are affected by Kala-azar.
Also, the kala Azar Rapid Diagnosis test kit was unveiled. The kit was developed by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). These tests are easy to conduct, could be done at primary health centres also and can provide results in 10-15 minutes.
Highlights of the new strategy
• The new strategy involves carrying out active searches for people with symptoms of the disease in the affected districts.
• Medical practioners, Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) and health workers were being trained. ASHA workers would be given monetary incentives to identify and send patients to hospitals.
• The early diagnosis and treatment will be done by using a single dose called Liposomal Amphoterecin B administered intravenously. It would help to reduce the human reservoir of infection. World Health Organisation (WHO) will supply the drug free.
• As part of the new strategy, an insecticide, synthetic Pyrethroid, directed specifically at the sand fly, which is known vector source of Kala Azar, would also be supplied for spraying on the walls of homes in the endemic regions.
• Kala Azar has been declared a notifiable disease, which means all doctors, whether in government or private service, are henceforth required to alert the state health authorities whenever they encounter a patient with the disease’s symptoms.
About Kala azar
Visceral leishmaniasis (VL), also known as kala-azar, black fever, and Dumdum fever is the most severe form of leishmaniasis. Leishmaniasis is a disease caused by protozoan parasites of the Leishmania genus.
This disease is the second-largest parasitic killer in the world (after malaria), responsible for an estimated 500000 infections each year worldwide.
The parasite migrates to the internal organs such as liver, spleen and bone marrow, and, if left untreated, will almost always result in the death of the host.
Signs and symptoms include fever, weight loss, fatigue, anemia, and substantial swelling of the liver and spleen.
Where: from India by 2015
When: 2 September 2014