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Kala Azar - A Forgotten Disease


Kala azar which symptoms are substantial weight loss, swelling of the spleen and liver, and anaemia is endemic in certain areas of Kenya like in Kacheliba, West Pokot District. If left untreated, it can have a fatality rate as high as 100% within two years. Every year it kills more than 50,000 people worldwide. For those that test positive the options are limited, only a handful of drugs exist to treat the estimated 500,000 new cases each year. The most common treatment, which was developed in the 1930s, is long, toxic and painful - a course of intra-muscular injections every day for 30 days. It is also expensive, costing around at least 100 dollars in private pharmacies, a price that is totally unaffordable for most Kenyans who survive on less than a dollar a day. MSF is one of very few organisations providing free treatment for kala azar in Kenya.