- Somalia is experiencing a dramatic increase in the number of cases of leishmaniasis, an infectious disease transmitted by bites from sand flies.
Within 12 months, the country’s only health centre, in Bakool in the south, has seen admissions for leishmaniasis rise from 140 to 980. This figure represents a worrying increase of 700%.
Marie-Eve Raguenaud of Médecins sans Frontières Belgium believed the figure is a tip of an iceberg, as there has been no epidemiological surveillance in the conflict-ravaged country.
"Our experience in the field leads us to believe that cases of leishmaniasis are being under-declared," Ms Raguenaud said.
The disease proves to be a real sword of Damocles hanging over the population of a country where health infrastructure has been ravaged by 15 years of civil war.
Without appropriate treatment, visceral leishmaniasis, one of the three clinical forms of the disease rife in Somalia, has a mortality rate of close to 100%. The situation is all the more serious as the country is already struggling with endemic tuberculosis and malnutrition made worse by the major drought of 2005 and 2006.
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