Eliminating visceral leishmaniasis

A multi-pronged approach

TDR news item
4 November 2011

The campaign to eliminate visceral leishmaniasis by 2015 has been underway since 2005, when the health ministers of Bangladesh, India and Nepal signed a Memorandum of Understanding for joint efforts to eliminate this deadly disease.

The target of the VL elimination programme is to reduce the annual incidence of kala azar to less than one per 10 000 at the district or sub district level (upazila in Bangladesh, sub district in India and district in Nepal) by 2015 (currently there are about 20 cases per 10 000). Health experts believe elimination is possible because of recent advances in diagnosis, medicines and management of the sandflies that carry the parasite. In addition, there are disease limiting factors that include:

  • Humans are the only reservoir;
  • There is only one sandfly vector species and it is susceptible to insecticides;
  • The geographic distribution is limited and highly clustered.

The major strategies for elimination that TDR is supporting include:

  • Early detection and treatment
  • Vector control (managing the sandflies the transmit the parasite)
  • Communication and education within the endemic communities.

For more information, contact Byron Arana.