Health Minister chairs a high level meeting to eliminate Kala-azar from the country by 2023
Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya on 4 January chaired a high-level meeting with four states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal governments to review the elimination of Kala-Azar from the country by the year 2023.
An overview of the news
Health ministers of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and senior officials of West Bengal were present during the meeting.
India is committed to eliminate Kala-azar from the country by 2023.
632 endemic blocks have already achieved elimination status with less than one case of Kala-azar per ten thousand population.
Only one block (Littipara) in Pakur district of Jharkhand is in the endemic category with 1.23 cases per 10,000 population.
The Central Government is working holistically with the State Government and other stakeholders for the eradication of Kala-azar in Jharkhand.
Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have achieved the Kala-azar elimination targets at the block level.
Global status of Kala-Azar
About 90 percent of global cases of kala-azar in the year 2021 were found in eight countries – Brazil, Eritrea, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan.
India accounts for 11.5 per cent of the total cases reported globally.
Bihar and Jharkhand currently account for more than 90 percent of Kala-azar cases.
What is Kala-azar?
It is also known as Visceral leishmaniasis (VL), black fever and Dumdum fever.
The disease is the second largest parasite killer in the world after Malaria.
It is a Neglected Tropical Disease affecting about 100 countries including India.
Fever, weight loss, fatigue, anaemia, and swelling of the liver and spleen.
It is caused by protozoan parasites of the Leishmania genus.
It migrates to the internal organs such as the liver, spleen and bone marrow.
The study warns that kala-azar patients can infect others even after treatment.
National Kala-azar Eradication Program
India's National Health Policy, 2002, set a target of eliminating Kala-azar by 2010, which was revised in 2015.
Under Kala-azar eradication in India, a target of 1 case per 10,000 population was set at the sub-district level.
All the activities related to this program are being implemented through the National Vector Borne Disease Control Program.
India signed a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Bangladesh and Nepal to eliminate Kala-azar from the South-East Asia region.
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