Kala Azar the Neglected Disease in Kenya
A public lecture held in Eldoret on May 9, 2012 has been told that Kala Azar is one of the neglected diseases of the world.
While making a presentation during the day-long session, Mark Riongoita ,a Clinical Officer with Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said the vector borne disease caused by a sandfly is 100 per cent fatal if left untreated but when treated the cure rate is 98 per cent.
Riongoita said the disease is characterized by an enlarged liver and spleen, irregular fever and anaemia, cough, loss of appetite and body weight and enlarged lymph nodes.
He said that MSF started treating the disease in 2000 in Amudat-Uganda before beginning operations in Kacheliba, Kenya in six years later . This followed the realization that 70 per cent of the persons attended to were from the North Rift Region in Kenya, namely from the Pokot, Turkana and Baringo Counties.
Riongoita said that so far they have treated over 3000 cases in poor and marginalized areas including Pokot, Turkana, Samburu, Isiolo, Marsabit covered by acacia vegetation, ant-hills and grass-thatched houses which provide a good habitat to the fly.
He, however, says the main challenge has been a diagnostic tool which has forced them to rely on rapid diagnostic test commonly known as RK39, followed by a combination therapy for 17 days. The rapid test was endorsed by KEMRI in 2009 after a validation study returned impressive results.
The MSF official added that they have since trained healthcare workers in Isiolo, Marsabit and other areas in the country prone to the disease.
Medical experts say that after Malaria, Kala Azar is the second largest parasitic killer disease, costing 500,000 lives worldwide each year whilst another 350 million people are at risk.
The Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital’s (MTRH) Chief Medical Specialist and Chairman-Division of Medicine, Dr. Jak Nyabundi also shared his experience with the disease with staff and students from Moi University’s College of Health Sciences, Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare (AMPATH), MTRH and the general public.
Dr (Mrs.) Faraj Some from the School of Medicine moderated the session.