Alarm Raised on Neglected Parasitic Killer In East Africa

Kala-azar, also known Visceral Leishmaniasis or Black Fever, is the second most deadly disease to malaria and is caused by sand bites. The body's internal organs are attacked and the disease proves fatal in about 95% of cases.

Across Kenya, Sudan, and Ethiopia, weak and feverish patients are being taken to hospitals, stricken by the parasitic killer.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 50,000 to 90,000 people globally are infected each year.

The progress in controlling Kala-azar is threatened by an acute shortage of an important "second-line" medicine given to patients when the standard treatment does not work. Known as AmBisome, this anti-fungal treatment is used for vulnerable Kala-azar patients such as pregnant women or for severe cases, writes Monique Wasunna for The Conversation.

InFocus

Medics at the MSF hospital in Lankien, in South Sudan's Jonglei State, treat patients for kala-azar (file photo).

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