Leishmaniasis: epidemiology and access to medicines. An update based on the outcomes of WHO regional meetings, literature review and experts' opinion

30 May 2012 | Geneva
an update based on the outcomes of WHO regional meetings, literature review and experts' opinion.

Leishmaniasis: epidemiology and access to medicines provides an update of information collected during WHO regional meetings on the epidemiology, ecology, geographical distribution, trends, access to medicines and management of leishmaniasis for their respective countries.

Although the paper focuses on an analysis of the findings, the figures contained therein are not precise and should therefore be interpreted with caution. The objective is to allow a more nuanced interpretation of published disease figures to spur activities towards improving the evidence base for leishmaniasis and other neglected tropical diseases.

In 2007, the Sixtieth World Health Assembly, WHO’s decision-making body, adopted resolution WHA60.13 on Control of leishmaniasis [pdf 1.5Mb], urging Member States where leishmaniasis is a substantial public-health problem to undertake actions to deal with the major factors underlying the failure to control the disease, including an update of epidemiological information.

In response to this resolution, and as part of a WHO-led effort to update the empirical information for leishmaniasis, national programme managers provided case data for a minimum period of 5 years up to the end of 2010. This information has been compiled in a document that also includes some aspects of leishmaniasis control in endemic countries. Data have been analysed from a comprehensive literature review covering publications on leishmaniasis in 96 countries.

Leishmaniasis, like many other neglected tropical diseases, has a focal distribution and occurs in remote locations. One form of leishmaniasis – visceral leishmaniasis – is fatal if not treated, and the majority of deaths go unrecognized, even with access to treatment.