By David Njagi
It has been ranked as one of the most difficult diseases to treat, but Visceral leishmaniasis, or the one plainly referred to as Kalaazar, may have finally met its match.
Scientists are developing an antigen test that does not require extraction of samples from internal organs while diagnosing the disease, which is also one of the most widespread in Eastern Africa.
Dr. Monique Wasunna, assistant director of research at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), says once in effect, the antigen test will save both medics and patients the pain of extracting samples from the spleen and bone marrow for laboratory tests.
“This is where we want to go. We are looking at various antigen tests to see if we can remove the pain and hazard of spread,” said Dr. Wasunna during an ongoing Annual Scientific and Health Conference at KEMRI, Nairobi.
According to her, the present treatment for Kalaazar takes 30 days through painful injections.
“The ideal treatment would be an oral compound which you can tell a patient to just go and take two tablets for a minimum number of days,” said Dr. Wasunna.
There are about 1.4 billion people in the world infected by Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). In Kenya Kalaazar is listed as one of the NTDs.