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98.7 per cent decline in Kala-azar cases since 2007 in India: Health Ministry

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New Delhi: There has been a 98.7 per cent decline in cases of Kala-azar from 44,533 in 2007 to 834 in 2022 in India, the Union Health Ministry said on Wednesday.

India is committed to eliminating Kalaa-azar from the country by 2023, it said.

Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, who chaired a high-level meeting to review the status of Kala-azar disease in the four endemic states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal, said 632 (99.8 per cent) endemic blocks have already achieved elimination status (less than one case per 10,000).

Only one block (Littipara) of Pakur district, Jharkhand is in the endemic category (1.23 cases/10,000 population).

“We are working holistically with the state government and other stakeholders to achieve elimination in Jharkhand,” he said.

Kala-azar is the considered the second deadliest parasitic killer in the world after Malaria.

Mandaviya appreciated the efforts of the state governments towards meeting the elimination target.

“Under the leadership of our prime minister, it remains our target to ensure health for all of our citizens,” he said.

The government has taken several steps towards the elimination of Kala-azar by 2023.

From interventions like pucca houses through PM-AWAS yojana, rural electrification, timely testing, treatment, and periodic high-level review, to incentivising through award distribution, the government along with its stakeholders are ensuring a robust ecosystem for early detection of the disease and its timely treatment, Mandaviya said.

The Centre is supporting the states in active case detection, surveillance, treatment, and supply of diagnostic kits, medicines, sprays, etc.

“While it is commendable that the endemic states are implementing targeted interventions, and some states have eliminated the disease in their districts, it is equally important to sustain the gain and work towards ensuring that the cases stay below 1 case/10,000 population,” the minister said.

He urged the endemic states to ensure that there is a regular review and micro-stratification in high-risk blocks.

“Since Kala-azar impacts those among the lower socio-economic strata of society, early diagnosis and complete case management, integrated control and surveillance along with the capacity building of human resource must be taken up on ground level”, he suggested.

For spreading public awareness, information regarding messages on prolonged fever, associated symptoms and free access to diagnosis and treatment and compensations/incentives, other government interventions are required to be widely disseminated through various mediums, further added.

About 90 pc of global cases of Kala-azar were reported from eight countries: Brazil, Eritrea, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan in 2021, with India contributing 11.5 pc of total cases reported globally.

Kala-azar was endemic in 633 blocks of 54 districts in four endemic states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. It is a notifiable disease in these states.

Currently, more than 90 per cent of the Kala-azar cases are contributed by Bihar and Jharkhand. Uttar Pradesh (2019) and West Bengal (2017) states have achieved their elimination targets at the block level.

Press Trust of India

Press Trust of India is lead news agency of India

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