VL elimination by 2015 on track with new research
High level representatives from the Governments of India, Nepal and Bangladesh met recently with TDR staff to identify the next set of research needs to eliminate visceral leishmaniasis (VL). The 8-10 October meeting in Freiburg, Germany provided an opportunity for health leaders in each country to learn what is working, and to develop both shared and individual strategies going forward.
Visceral leishmaniasis, which is also called kala-azar, is transmitted by a sand fly and affects the poorest of the poor in India, Bangladesh and Nepal – 186 million people are at risk. Lack of treatment causes 30% of those infected to die.
The country leaders reviewed progress against the Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2005 to reduce the disease burden from about 300 cases per 100 000 to less than 10, and agreed to the next set of research priorities.
“We have made important progress in testing new drugs and diagnostics and analyzing the most effective ways of vector control, but now we need scientific evidence for how best to implement new and old tools in our programmes,” said Prof Be-Nazir Ahmed, Director of the Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health, Bangladesh.
After seven years of research with TDR and other partners, significant progress has been made in actively identifying cases in remote areas as early as possible, developing new treatment strategies that are shorter, and learning how to reduce the transmission of the parasite.
The next priorities that were agreed include work to better understand the behavior of the sand flies, to develop alternative, environmental tools to control the insects, to critically analyse an improved monitoring system for the performance of the programmes in case detection, case management and vector control, to get a better understanding of how the disease is spread through cases that present no symptoms and through PKDL (post kala-azar dermal leishmaniasis).
“This next level of research is critical to meet our goals by 2015 and beyond in the consolidation and maintenance phase, and we are confident we can do it, said Dr A.C. Dhariwal, Director of the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme in New Delhi, India. “TDR has been a valuable partner to help us complete this work.”
For more information, please contact:
Dr Axel Kroeger
Telephone: +41 22 79 13398