RUPANDEHI, July 10: The number of patients suffering from Visceral Leishmaniasis, locally known as Kala-azar, has increased at an alarming rate in Province 5, according to the details of Lumbini Zonal Hospital (LZH), Butwal and Mission Hospital, Palpa.
Also known as black fever, Kala-azar reportedly took a total of 91 lives in Province 5 from 2014 to 2018. Earlier, the government had announced the area to the west of the Narayani River free of Kala-azar. But as the number of patients kept increasing, various awareness campaigns against the disease are being conducted there, according to Laxmiraj Regmi, Medical Superintendent of LZH. "We have found patients in places which according to the government are not prone to Kala-azar," said Regmi, adding, "The situation is worse in the hills."
According to LZH, in the last five years, the highest number of Kala-azar patients was recorded in Palpa. A total of 41 people were found suffering from Kala-azar in the last five years. The district with second highest number of patients is Pyuthan where a total of 17 patients came for the treatment of black fever in this period. Similarly, 10 in Syangja, five each in Argakhanchi and Gulmi were affected by it.
Likewise, three people in Rupandedhi were infected with this illness, according to LZH. Furthermore, one patient each from Kapilvastu, Salyan, Rolpa, Nawalparasi and Banke were admitted in the hospital for the same problem.
As the hospital only has the record of those who came to LZH for treatment, and Mission Hospital, Regmi who is also the spokesperson for the hospital speculates the number of patients could be higher than those recorded. Health experts state that the government should stress running campaigns in Province 5 to mitigate the risk of Kala-azar.
According to the government provision, if patients chose to treat Kala-azar at government hospitals, they receive medicines worth Rs 5,000 and Rs 1,000 as the transportation charge. It costs around Rs 20,000 for patients to treat this disease, say doctors. The government has been conducting programs against this disease in 43 districts.