At least 87 people have died and over 20,000 people afflicted by Kala-azar in Bihar during 2010 despite efforts by government and non-government organisations to eradicate the killer disease.

State Deputy Chief Malaria officer Dr. S. K. Aman told PTI that in the year gone, 22,470 people were afflicted by Kala-azar and 1684 people were still undergoing treatment.

All the 38 districts in Bihar are affected by the disease at present and the most affected districts are Muzaffarpur, Vaishali, Saharsa, Araria, Purnia, East Champaran, Samastipur, Madhepura, Saharsa and Darbhanga.

Eighty people had died and 21,318 were affected by the disease in 2009, Aman said.

The state government had constituted a task force headed by former union health minister and BJP MP Dr. C. P. Thakur to work for total eradication of the disease.

Dr. Thakur said the disease spread due to sand flies mostly found in raw mud—soil and spraying of DDT.

The Kala-azar epidemic in Bihar, he said, had started from a small block and gradually spread to almost entire northern Bihar.

Vaishali was the worst affected district with the highest incidence rate of 5.9 per thousand in 1978.

In 1991, the number of kala-azar patients rose to 2.5 lakh in the state prompting a representation to the then prime minister P. V. Narasimha Rao.

A central delegation had then visited the state to make an on the spot study of the situation.

The Centre had, subsquently, formulated a plan for eradication of the disease with financial assistance of Rs. 28 crore.

Dr. Thakur said the Kala-azar eradication programme had continued till 1994 but was halted in 1995 following failure of the state government to provide its share of Rs. seven crore for the purpose.

The number of patients once again started increasing from 2002.

In order to control the killer disease, the Centre is currently running national vector generated disease control programme for the eradication of Kala-azar in Bihar.

The programme is being implemented by Bihar State Health Society since 2006.

Dr. Thakur said that people living below poverty line and daily wage earners are vulnerable to the disease.

Official sources said the Centre had provided a special package of Rs. 96 crore for construction of Rs. 73,000 houses under Indira Awas Yojna in 15 districts in Bihar during 2008-09 for containing the disease but the state government had failed to fully utilise the fund and constructed 639 houses at the cost of Rs. 10.99 crore.

Dr. Thakur suggested a special drive to ensure identification of more people affected by the disease in Bihar and further intensification of continued campaign for eradication of disease in Bihar.

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