There has been a 27% decline in kala azar positive cases in Bihar since 2015 and for the period ending 2016. That’s the good news, as Bihar observes kala azar day on Wednesday.
A Bihar government survey says that kala azar, a slow progressing vector disease, spread by the female sandfly, has shown a massive decline across 33 endemic districts of Bihar and Jharkhand, besides 11 districts of West Bengal in the last one year. The number of cases is less in Uttar Pradesh, where the disease has been reported sporadically.
Dr RK Das Gupta, joint director, national vector borne disease control programme of the ministry of health and family welfare, said, “Bihar, which contributes 70% of the total kala azar cases reported from the four Indian states, has witnessed a significant decline in the disease burden. The case load has come down from 33,187 in 2011 to 6,245 in 2016, a decline of 81%. The mortality has reduced from 80 deaths in 2011 to nil during the same period.”
Bihar has 10 endemic districts, which include Araria,East Champaran, Madhepura, Muzaffarpur, Purnia, Saharsa, Samastipur, Saran, Sitamarhi and Vaishali, where high relative humidity, warm temperature, high sub-soil water and abundance of vegetation provide sandflies the perfect environment to breed. However, surveyors noted that kala-azar positive cases declined from 6,517 in 2015 to 4,773 cases in 2016, representing a 27% decline in the last one year.
Dr MP Sharma, additional director-cum-state programme officer (VBD), Bihar, said: “We think, we can ensure kala azar elimination by the end of 2017 if the curative and preventive measures are further expedited.”
He said, the first round of indoor residual spray will commence from March 20 in 7,583 revenue villages, having high risk environment across 33 districts in Bihar and Jharkhand. The kala azar mitra house-to-house kala azar patient search programme is in operation in 120 highly endemic villages since January, he added.
Bihar initiated the chief minister kala azar relief scheme, under which each treated patient is paid Rs 6,600 on completion of treatment at recognised government centres. It has also tied up with partners like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, RMRI, NCDC, KalaCORE to eliminate the disease, while the World Health Organisation (WHO), has been helping with free drugs and monitoring.
A meeting on ‘accelerated plan of action for kala azar elimination by 2017’ was held in Delhi from February 2 to 4. It stressed on focussing on high endemic villages in 94 blocks, reporting more than one case per 10,000 population, said Dr Das Gupta.
He said, “As per the plan, there is a proposal to extend treatment facilities to a majority of block primary health centres so that cases have easier access to treatment centres.”
Kala azar, a potentially fatal parasitic disease has been eliminated from a large part of the world. However, it continues to affect thousands of people living in India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.