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Cutaneous leishmaniasis is one of the main tropical diseases in Pakistan and is considered a public health burden in the country. It is caused by a parasite transmitted by the bite of an infected female phlebotomine sandfly and appears in the form of a small lesion.

Cutaneous leishmaniasis/CDC

According to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), in 2021, they screened 5,959 patients in Balochistan for cutaneous leishmaniasis and 2,699 patients in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. They provided treatment to 4,501 people in Balochistan and 1,745 people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Last year in Balochistan 4,287 people were cured of the disease, and 1,265 people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The treatment of cutaneous leishmaniasis requires a daily or biweekly injection over the course of three to eight weeks, depending on the severity of the disease. Many patients are not able to complete their treatment because the trip to hospital for those injections is too difficult or too expensive.

“Cutaneous leishmaniasis is a tropical disease that, if left untreated, can cause severe physical disfigurement. It is not life threatening but can have serious consequences on the lives of the people who are infected”, says Dr. Ahmed Bilal, MSF Medical Coordinator in Pakistan. “It is essential that people have access to quality drugs at affordable prices and treatment close to where they live in order to properly tackle this disease.”

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