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MSF’s cutaneous leishmaniasis project in Peshawar, Pakistan

Photograph by Laurie Bonnaud
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Cutaneous Leishmaniasis (CL) is a skin infection caused by a single-celled parasite that is transmitted by the bite of a phlebotomine sandfly. It is common in Pakistan and characterised by lesions on the face or body. It can be easily treated through injections, but medication to treat the disease is not always available as it affects mostly poor rural populations and is not considered a public health priority.

In Pakistan, CL is a public health burden and is considered a Neglected Tropical Disease. It can cause severe physical disfigurement that leads to stigmatization and discrimination. Yet, no official data is available about the number of people infected by the disease in the country.

MSF supports CL patients in Pakistan through specialized treatment facilities, ensuring a steady supply of safe and effective medication, offering mental health support and increasing awareness about treatment and prevention. Today, MSF operates CL programs in Quetta and Kuchlak in Balochistan province and Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. In 2017, MSF treated close to 4,000 CL patients and was able to cure 99% of the patients. In 2018, the number of CL patients treated by MSF is expected to be above 5,000.