Kala-azar now spreading to eastern hilly districts

Robin Giri

Dharan, April 18:

Government efforts aimed at rooting out kala-azar have not been effective. Apart from the terai, the disease has been reported in the hilly districts, which are connected to the terai.

According to data, while 267 kala-azar patients visited the BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences (BPKIHS), Dharan, in the year 2003, the number of patients rose to 296 in 2004. Last year, five of the kala-azar patients admitted to the hospital died. Dr Prahlad Karki, the chief of the BPKIHS, said that the BPKIHS has started separate tropical wards for facilitating the treatment of kala-azar patients. The government has listed 13 districts, namely Sunsari, Morang, Jhapa, Saptari, Siraha and Dhanusha, Udayapur, Rautahat, Bara, Mahotari, Parsha, Sarlahi and Chitwan as the kala-azar-affected districts. According to doctors at the BPKIHS, kala-azar patients from the hilly districts of Dhankuta, Bhojpur, Khotang, Ilam and Panchthar were admitted to the BPKIHS in the past.

Until 2003, the BPKIHS used to treat kala-azar patients for free. In addition, caretakers of the patients were given allowances. Nowadays, kala-azar patients get medicines for free, but they have to bear the cost of treatment themselves. But the BKIHS waives the cost of treatment of poor patients, said Dr Karki, the BPKIHS chief. “We are ready to treat the poor patients for free, provided they come up with recommendations of the concerned village development committees and municipalities,” he said.