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Rediff.com  » News » Bill Gates to help Bihar fight kala azar

Bill Gates to help Bihar fight kala azar

Last updated on: October 23, 2006 16:40 IST
As hundreds of people, mostly poor, suffer from the deadly kala azar ( black fever) in Bihar, the World Bank and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are eager to fund the kala azar control and eradication programme.

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.

Dengue deaths in Delhi became a national issue, but deaths due to kala azar that has beenĀ  regularly reported in rural Bihar hardly make any news. The main victims of this disease belong to poor Dalit castes, like Musahars, and backward castes.

Due to socio-economic reasons, landless Musahars and other backward castes have been forcedĀ 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.

Bill Gates foundation also want to join hands to eradicate kala azar. "The foundation has decided to fund the battle against kala azar," Dr C P Thakur, a reputed expert of kala azar, said.

Thakur, a former Union minister, said that foundation was in touch with concerned department of the Government of India to reduce suffering of people.

A World Bank team will visit Bihar's worst kala azar hit districts of Muzaffarpur and Vaishali in north Bihar shortly to review the situation, official sources said.

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

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

Lack of funds, supply of DDT and apathy of the administration 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.

Anand Mohan Sahay in Patna