PESHAWAR: Following an outbreak in Karak, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) health department has been grappling with fast-spreading Leishmaniasis across the province, having recorded 2500 cases thus far at the control centre set up at Naseerullah Babar memorial hospital.

With most of the vaccine stocks exhausted in treating patients, the health department has been facing a challenge in securing additional doses and looking towards the World Health Organization (WHO) for vaccines to control the disease.

“More than 2500 cases have so far reported in the Leishmaniasis control centre at Naseer Ullah Babar memorial hospital,” said a report of KP Health department. The report further provided that only from Peshawar district, 575 cases were reported. It revealed that Karak, Nowshera, Mardan, Mohmand and Khyber are the most affected districts and are in need of immediate attention of the health department as there is an abundance of sand flies in the districts.

The report added that the number of cases had surpassed those of last year, adding that as many as 2113 cases were reported in 2018. It has also been observed that the disease is under-reported from many areas of the province.

In the near past, the WHO has provided the vaccines without any cost to the patients but now that process has been stopped in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. As the injections are very expensive, the poor patients cannot afford to purchase it from the market as the cost of a single injection is Rs 7000. An affected patient has to receive at least seven injections to fully recover.

According to the health officials, the provincial health department has already finalized all the arrangements with WHO to procure 200,000 injections. In the first phase, the WHO will provide 11000 doses.

According to WHO Leishmaniasis is caused by parasites transmitted by the bite of infected female sand flies. The WHO has been linked the disease to environmental changes such as deforestation, irrigation schemes and urbanization. The disease which the WHO has associated malnutrition, population displacement, poor housing, a weak immune system and lack of financial resources, has affected the some the poorest population of the world.

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