Kala-Azar would be Eradicated in the Next Five Years: Health Minister

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The Government will take five years to eradicate chronic and potentially fatal Kala-azar, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said, the disease is currently prevalent in Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh.

"The National Health Policy target of Kala-azar elimination by 2010 has not been achieved," he said during Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

"However, data on Kala-azar incidence for 2009 indicate that 319 out of 514 identified blocks in the four Kala-azar endemic states have achieved the target of Kala-azar elimination, that is, less than one case per 10,000 population," he said.

Azad said 32,803 cases of the disease were reported in 2005 which came down to 2,800 in 2010. 157 persons died of the disease in 2005 and 98 in 2010, marking a 37.58 percent reduction in five years.

"Kala-azar is a vector borne disease and its elimination from the community depends on various environmental, socio- economic and health related factors, and, therefore, it requires a multi-sectoral approach," he said.

"The date for Kala-azar elimination has now been revised to 2015."

The minister said diagnosis of the disease has vastly improved since 2005.

To a separate question, Azad said Mobile Medical Units have been envisaged to provide preventive and curative care in inaccessible areas and difficult terrains.

"In 2008-09 and 2009-10, proposals amounting to Rs 346.09 crore were received from states/UTs for MMUs," he said.

There are 1,558 MMUs in operation in 28 states and UTs, he said regretting that North Eastern states, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir have not come forward to make use of these units.

Under the scheme, the Centre provides money for purchase of MMUs and bears 60 percent of its maintenance cost in the first year. Its share of maintenance cost reduces to 40 percent in second year and 20 percent in third year.

From the fourth year, the maintenance is the responsibility of the state government, he added.

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