APRIL 2015 WINNER

Treating a Deadly Disease in South Sudan

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Kala Azar in South Sudan

Kala azar (KA) is the second-largest parasitic killer in the world — only malaria is more deadly. KA is also one of the most dangerous neglected tropical diseases and is endemic in 47 countries with approximately 200 million people at risk of infection. The parasite is spread to humans by bites from infected female sand flies and it attacks the immune system. KA is almost always fatal if not treated.

Since 1988, Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has treated over 100,000 people with the disease. MSF is also campaigning for more research into suitable diagnostic techniques and affordable drugs to treat this neglected disease.

For nearly 20 years, MSF has been running a clinic and hospital in Lankien, South Sudan, providing primary healthcare services and treatment for KA. The treatment consists of a daily injection for a period of 30 days, and, though painful, it means the difference between certain death and recovery with the likelihood of life-long immunity to this disease.

In addition, field workers experienced with treating KA were deployed in Lankien through the second half of 2014 to help increase the capacity of the project. Overall in South Sudan, MSF screened 6,871 patients for KA and treated 6,093 infected patients in 2014.

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