08 Nov 2013 09:00
Known as the disease of the poor, Kala Azar affects millions of people in the world. In Bihar, located in the north-east region of India Doctors without Borders have treated 8,000 patients of Kala Azar in the recent years.
The disease Leishmaniasis is transmitted by the bites of certain kinds of sandflies and is considered to be one of the 17 neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in the world. The severe form of Leishmaniasis is known as Kala Azar (Black fever in Hindi).Most people who suffer Kala Azar in this region often live in remote locations, and rarely go to a health center and they can't afford private doctors or transportation to government hospitals.
The co-infection with TB and HIV/AIDS worsens the situation of the infected person with Kala Azar and their treatment becomes more complex. When people infected with Kala Azar reach Hajipur Sadar Hospital in Bihar, they suffer from many discomforts such as high fever, anemia, and have become very weak due to the disease.
Left untreated, Kala Azar almost always leads to the death of the patient. Since the disease is globally neglected, access to affordable medicine and proper care is very limited. Many of the infected patients can't afford treatment; that is highly invasive and needs proper laboratories and trained physicians to complete.
Photos and Text by David Rengel