Global & Disaster Medicine

CORDS on leishmaniasis


“…New research out today (9 Feb 2016); the Leishmaniasis Gap Analysis Report and Action Plan carried out in Albania, Jordan and Pakistan during 2015, shows despite its worldwide prevalence and disastrous impact on the lives of millions, leishmaniasis is still very much a growing, neglected disease, mainly affecting impoverished communities, living in poor conditions, without adequate access to shelter, healthcare and medication…..”


“….Leishmaniasis, one of the world’s oldest recorded diseases dating back to the 7th century BC, is an entirely treatable parasitic disease spread by female sandflies. Around 310,000,000 people are estimated to be at risk globally, with around 1.6 million new cases each year across 98 countries. The cutaneous form of the disease can lead to distressing and disfiguring skin ulcers and scarring, while visceral leishmaniasis, which affects organs such as the liver and spleen, is invariably fatal if not treated. Over 40,000 people die from the disease every year, making it the second-largest parasitic killer in the world after malaria.

The purpose of the study is to improve the capacity for the diagnosis, treatment and control of leishmaniasis and other vector borne diseases.

Our research found that;

  • leishmaniasis is highly correlated with poverty, malnutrition and other diseases which affect immunity, as well as factors such as crowded living conditions and poor sanitation.
  • the real health burden of leishmaniasis remains largely unknown with only 600,000 of the estimated 1.6 million cases each year being diagnosed and treated. This is because those who are most affected are from marginalised communities in rural areas or urban slums, who are unable to seek medical attention because of cost and lack of access to treatment
  • in the majority of cases leishmaniasis cannot be transmitted directly from an infected person or animal to another person. Rather it requires the presence of female sandfly vectors to spread the disease. It is not therefore a disease that is likely to spread in areas such as Western Europe, which generally lack sandflies and have healthy populations with good sanitation and access to high-quality healthcare
  • leishmaniasis has been ignored largely because of its association with poverty and the limited capacity of governments and aid agencies to deal with its complex epidemiology
  • it has also been a low priority for multinational pharmaceutical companies to invest in research to develop effective vaccines and therapies……”


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