VL is transmitted through the bites of infected female sandflies and attacks the internal organs of those who contract it – hence visceral.
The international consortium KalaCORE, with funding from the UK government, helped to turn the tide against VL in south Asia and east Africa. The programme focused on improving access to prompt diagnosis and effective treatment, training healthworkers, equipping health centres, raising community awareness, and bolstering national surveillance systems.
We were members of KalaCORE and the managing agent for the UK aid programme. Through it we supported the training of more than 80,000 healthworkers and provided diagnosis and treatment for over 60,000 patients.
The aim in south Asia was to eliminate VL as a public health problem, with a target of less than one case per 10,000 people. Good progress was achieved, with cases declining in three main endemic countries – Bangladesh, India and Nepal.