The simple yet deadly facts should compel any straight thinking government to invest heavily in a disease that is easily preventable and curable.
But that is not the case for Kala-azar. The people who know how hard Kalazaar hits are those who have lived through decades of torture by a disease that only comes second in the ranking of parasitic killer diseases in the world.
Malaria leads. Kala-azar follows according to WHO.
The difference in the management of these two diseases is that fact that one has the eyes and ears of the world and National governments are cooperating to see to it that Malaria doesn’t continue to consume lives.
Kala-azar however is the neglected kind. The one that reduces it’s victims to sad statistics that have only begun to be documented.
Take East Pokot for example. The disease continues to ravage the community. Last year alone, out of the 250 patients who tested positive for Kala-azar, a whooping 160 of them came from East Pokot.
The reasons for this are easy to understand.
If you get ill and are In East Pokot, you are damned. There is no facility nearby to attend to the disease.
A patients saving grace is about 150 Kilometers away. As a result of the distance and the cost implications, some patients choose not to make the journey.
Kala-azar, if not treated kills.
Kala-azar is prevalent here because of the warm temperatures that favour sandflies which live in anthills.
They can also be found in walls that have cracks and heaps of cow dung.
According to WHO, leishmaniasis or Kala-azar is caused by a protozoan parasite which is transmitted by the bite of infected phlebotomine sandfly.
A clinical officer Benadine Chelimo has seen the community ravaged by the disease, ‘’I am advising the community to destroy the dormant anthills and to smear their houses and to destroy the bushes around their houses. Their dressing code is increasing the prevalence of Kala-azar’’
It is estimated that more than 4000 people get Kala-azar. It is more prevalent in children between the ages of 10-14 years.
East Pokot is not alone.
More than 300 cases of Kala-azar have been reported in Marsabit and Wajir counties since 2017 begun.
WHO last month shipped medical supplies from its medical supplies from its global emergency stockpile to Marsabit to counter the outbreak.
Ruiz Postigo, Medical Officer in charge of WHO’s leishmaniasis control and elimination programme said
‘’There is an urgent need to expand the number of screening, diagnostic and treatment sites to improve access to health services in this vast and isolated area”