2002 - Leishmaniasis in Afghanistan
22 May 2002
Disease Outbreak Reported
In collaboration with the Ministry of Health of Afghanistan and nongovernmental organizations including Health Net International (HNI) and TODAI, WHO has recently carried out an evaluation of the situation regarding cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) in Kabul. The situation in Kabul appears to be particularly severe, with an estimated 200 000 cases of CL.
Although CL is not a lethal disease, it carries a high burden of social stigma. Movements of populations both within the country and across borders due to the consequences of ongoing conflicts are expected to increase the incidence of the disease within the coming months. CL has been endemic in Afghanistan for several years, with foci of zoonotic (animal reservoir to man) transmission mainly in the northern provinces and with anthroponotic transmission (human to human) typically involving large cities.
An emergency plan of action is being developed by WHO and other partners to control the situation by the end of 2003, at least in Kabul. Priority interventions include provision of impregnated bednets, early treatment of cases with first line drugs, recruitment and training of intervention teams, and health education.
WHO has already provided drugs for the treatment of 35 000 cases. In collaboration with HNI, WHO has also provided impregnated bednets for protection against the sandfly vector.