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Addressing Kala Azar and Health and Sanitation in North Bihar

Locations: Katihar, Muzaffarpur, Samastipur, Vaishali

Although kala azar (black fever), a parasitic disease carried by sand flies, has been mostly eradicated in the developing world, it continues to be a scourge in the poorest rural communities in flood-prone areas of north Bihar. The disease is often fatal if untreated, and there were estimated to be more than 21,000 cases in this area in 2005.

In 2009, with funding from CAF India, IDF began implementing a project to reduce the number of cases by 80 percent in a total of 54 villages over three years. Using multi-pronged interventions, beginning with the critical process of social and disease mapping, project staff gradually built relationships among community members and health and social workers to identify individuals with the disease, introduced health awareness and education programs using community-driven materials, installed hygienic water pumps and other sanitation methods, and ensured patient access to the free treatment available through primary health clinics (PHCs).

As a result of IDF's interventions, the number of cases in the 18 villages targeted during the first year of the project dropped to 22; over 75 percent of the target population were educated about kala azar and the importance of proper sanitation, hygiene, and nutrition; and PHC staff became active partners in treating villagers.

Most important, the state department of health adopted IDF's educational materials, which have now become part of a statewide program devoted to the eradication of kala azar in Bihar.

Click here for the project report (pdf).

This flip chart developed by IDF is now being used by the Bihar health department