TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

KalaCORE launched to eliminate visceral leishmaniasis

A new partnership program, KalaCORE, aims to eliminate visceral leishmaniasis. | Courtesy of lshtm.ac.uk

Health professionals have developed a new partnership program to eliminate visceral leishmaniasis, a deadly illness in Asia and several African countries.

Leishmania parasites, spread through phlebotomine sand flies’ bites, cause visceral leishmaniasis. The illness is more widespread in displaced populations with poor housing, little sanitation and malnutrition. The disease causes significant weight loss, high fever, swollen liver and spleen, and anemia. If patients do not seek treatment, the illness is nearly always fatal.

The World Health Organization estimates that 300,000 people are diagnosed with visceral leishmaniasis each year; 20,000 of those cases end in death.

The program involves KalaCORE, the Consortium for Control and Elimination of Visceral Leishmaniasis, which includes experts from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Border), Mott MacDonald and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative.

The program is funded with United Kingdom aid and will be implemented in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Sudan and South Sudan.

Countries is South Asia almost have eliminated the illness. KalaCORE will concentrate supporting these areas with solutions to ongoing problems, such as poor diagnosis, mistreatment, and inefficiency of local institutions.

The disease has reached epidemic proportions in East Africa. The region’s poor national health infrastructures, an HIV epidemic and large displaced populations make it more susceptible to visceral leishmaniasis. Here, KalaCORE will focus on treating patients and improving control methods.

Ongoing operational research will continue to further the data and knowledge about visceral leishmaniasis in various regions.

“Elimination of visceral leishmaniasis is within our grasp,” Simon Croft, a professor leading the London School’s research, said. “This is an exciting opportunity to tackle this neglected tropical disease and potentially save thousands of lives every year across Africa and Asia.”

Organizations in this story

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine ,

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