New Delhi [India], December 30 (ANI): Union Minister Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday reviewed the status of the disease 'Kala-Azar' in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
During an event held in presence of concerned officials from these fours states, the Union Health Minister asserted that the Government of India is strongly committed to the elimination of Kala Azar.
"Kala Azar is the 2nd largest parasitic killer in the world after Malaria and results in a 95 per cent fatality rate if the patients are not treated. Additionally, up to 20 per cent of the patients who are correctly treated and cured, develop a skin condition called Post-Kala-Azar Dermal Leishmaniasis (PKDL) which surfaces within months to years after treatment. These patients can contain large amounts of parasites in their skin lesions, making them an important source of transmission," Vardhan said.
He was apprised that there are 54 districts in Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal that are currently affected by Kala-azar with sporadic cases in other states like Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Sikkim, and Uttarakhand.
Speaking on the gains made in the elimination of Kala Azar, he noted that as of November 30, 2020, only 12 blocks in Jharkhand and 4 blocks in Bihar have reported more than 1 case per 10,000 population.
Bihar which has traditionally had a large burden of Kala-azar has achieved elimination target in almost all except 4 blocks located in districts of Siwan and Saran (out of 458 blocks).
Jharkhand too has made significant progress both in reduction of Kala-azar and PKDL cases, as well as in number of blocks reporting more than 1 case per 10,000 population.
Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have achieved their elimination target and needs to be more vigilant and diligent to consolidate and sustain their gains; they will earn the Elimination Certificate at the end of 3 years.
He appealed to all the District Magistrates and their officers at the district and block/level that are still reporting more than 1 case per 10,000 population to take some time out of their schedule for a regular review of Kala-azar and to help the district teams in overcoming the issues coming in the way of elimination target. "A risk based stratified approach needs to be formulated with clear activities and responsibilities that come with measurable monitoring indicators. Kala Azar disproportionately impacts the people at lower socio-economic strata of society whose houses are not sprayed often. In addition, they are unable to apply for pucca houses since they do not own land."
In this respect, the Union Minister underlined the importance of the following activities to target the elimination of the disease -- Development of a plan for the "unreached poorest" or underprivileged sections in endemic areas. Leveraging of Kala-azar elimination programme within POSHAN Abhiyaan for maximum benefit at community level. Exploration of the opportunity of providing improved housing under the flagship program of the Prime Minister Awas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G). (ANI)