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Kala azar kills 7 children in flood-hit Bihar

Anand Mohan Sahay in Patna | October 04, 2008 13:54 IST

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Seven children have been killed by deadly kala azar (black fever) in flood-hit Bihar's Purnia district and dozens are suffering from it.

Official sources in Purnia district administration told rediff.com on Saturday that seven children died in last 10 days in the Sadar hospital in Purnia town and several childrens affected by the disease have been admitted in the hospital.

"Seven children admitted in the hospital for treatment of kala azar died. Most of the victims were from the flood-affected villages," senior doctor R Mandal said .

Mandal said many children suffering from kala azar were undergoing treatment in the hospital. However, he denied allegations of negligence on the part of the hospital.

Officials in the state health department admitted that hundreds of flood victims are suffering from kala azar in Purnia, Supaul, Saharsa,Madhepura and Araria districts.

All the five districts were badly affected by flood this year after a breach in the Kosi [Images] river embankment that led to the change of the river course.

In Bihar currently, 31 out of 38 districts in Bihar are in the grip of the disease. The state government's estimate is that over 25,000 people are suffering from kala azar. Deaths due to kala azar have been regularly reported in rural Bihar.

The main victims of this disease belong to poor Dalit castes, like Musahars, and backward castes.

Due to socioeconomic reasons, landless Musahars and other backward castes have been forced to live in unhygienic conditions that made them easy prey to the dreaded disease.

Some kala azar experts have dubbed it the 'poor man's disease'. According to sources in the state government, the World Bank has shown keen interest to fund the kala azar control and eradication programme.

In Bihar, only a few districts including Gaya, Kaimur, Rohtas, Aurangabad, Nawada, Jamui and Banka remains free from kala azar till date.

However, for over 10 years the blame game over kala azar is going on between the Centre and state government. Both blame each other for failure to check the disease.

Lack of funds, lack of supply of DDT and apathy of the administration are pushing more and more people to death due to kala azar in this impoverished state.

Kala azar -- medically known as Visceral Leishmaniasis -- is a vector-borne disease and is characterised by fever, weight loss, swelling of spleen and liver and anemia that could lead to cardiovascular complications.






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