The worst outbreak of kala azar of the last decade is hitting East Africa, and collaboration in the region, through the Leishmaniasis East Africa Platform (LEAP), has allowed to develop a new therapy (SSG & PM), cheaper, and that reduces by almost half the duration of the treatment, which goes from a cycle of injections of 30 days to one of 17.

East African countries where this disease is endemic are adopting appropriate regulatory measures to use the new treatment in their programs, but specialists have warned that if international funds or the support of benefactor governments in their development are not obtained, few patients they will be able to access it.

Experts warn that if international funds or the support of benefactor governments are not obtained, few patients will be able to access the new treatment

Kala azar is another of the names by which the visceral leishmaniasis, an endemic parasitic disease in around 70 countries. South Sudan has the second highest number of cases of this pathology, after India. It is estimated that half a million people are infected, and between 50,000 and 60,000 die every year because of their cause around the world.

For 70 years, there have been only slight improvements in the treatment of kala azar in Africa and, now, LEAP and its collaborators have developed this new combination treatment of sodium stibogluconate and paromomycin.

Monique Wasunna, deputy director of the Kenya Medical Research Institute(KEMRI), and responsible for the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) Africa, has declared that kala azar affects mainly the poorest population of the most recondite peoples, and that it is they who would benefit mainly from this therapy, shorter and more affordable.

This treatment is effective and cures patients. Combination therapies help fight resistance to treatments. The countries of the region are working on their registration and prepared to administer the treatment, but they need financial help to control the disease.


Innovation for Global Development (November 2019).