KHAR: The people of Bajaur tribal district have called upon the government to take steps on emergency basis to control the rapid spread of Leishmania disease in Bajaur and adjacent Mohmand tribal district and Upper Dir.

Local sources said Leishmania cases are on the rise and the number of affected people has cross 4,000 which is an alarming sign. Leishmania has become an epidemic in Bajaur tribal district which has affected the children, women and elderly persons as well. The sources said the number of affected patients is increasing every day and the situation is going from bad to worse. Poor patients cannot afford private treatment as the vaccine is very expensive and they are looking to government for help.

People of the area said lack of vaccine is the major cause behind the rapid spread of the disease. They said the Pakistan Army had arranged a camp in January in which the vaccine was provided to about 500 patients. They said the number of patients has increased enormously, while the Health Department provided the vaccine for only 200 patients. They demanded Corps Commander Peshawar and Health Department officials to take steps to provide vaccine to the affected patients to control further spread of the disease.

Leishmania is a common disease in the tribal districts and several cases emerge in these areas from time to time. Leishmania is caused from being bitten by an infected sand fly. This insect is most active in humid environments during the warmer months and at night, from dusk to dawn.

Last month, a similar situation developed regarding the spread of Leishmania in some districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to unavailability of vaccine. First the disease surfaced in Karak and then in other districts of KP. The Health Department recorded 2500 cases last month in the whole province. The available vaccine stocks were exhausted in treating the patients and the Health Department were facing a challenge in securing additional doses and looking towards the World Health Organisation (WHO) for vaccines to control the disease.

A report of the KP Health Department said 575 cases were reported from Peshawar. Karak, Nowshera, Mardan, Mohmand and Khyber were also direly affected from the disease.