New Delhi, Dec 30 (PTI) Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have achieved their elimination target of the deadly Kala-azar disease while only four blocks in Bihar and 12 in Jharkhand have reported more than one cases per 10,000 population, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said Wednesday.

Vardhan on Wednesday reviewed the status of the disease in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, the ministry said in a statement.

“Bihar, which has traditionally had a large burden of Kala-Azar has achieved elimination target in almost all except four blocks located in districts of Siwan and Saran (out of 458 blocks),” he said, speaking on the gains made in elimination of Kala-azar.

Vardhan said Jharkhand too has made significant progress both in reduction of Kala-azar and PKDL (post-Kala-Azar dermal leishmaniasis) cases, as well as in number of blocks reporting more than 1 case per 10,000 population.

“Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have achieved their elimination target and need to be more vigilant and diligent to consolidate and sustain their gains; they will earn the Elimination Certificate at the end of three years,” he said.

Vardhan was apprised that there are 54 districts in four states namely Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal that are currently affected by Kala-azar with sporadic cases in other states such as Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Sikkim, Uttarakhand and the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, the Health Ministry said in the statement.

Kala-azar is the second largest parasitic killer in the world after Malaria and results in a 95 per cent fatality rate if the patients are not treated, the minister said.

Additionally, up to 20 per cent of the patients who are correctly treated and cured, develop a skin condition called Post-Kala-Azar Dermal Leishmaniasis (PKDL) which surfaces within months to years after treatment, he said.

These patients can contain large amounts of parasites in their skin lesions, making them an important source of transmission, Vardhan said.

He appealed to all district magistrates and officials to work towards overcoming the issues coming in the way of achieving elimination target. “Kala-azar disproportionately impacts the people at lower socio-economic strata of society whose houses are not sprayed often. In addition, they are unable to apply for pucca houses since they don’t own land,” Vardhan noted.

In this respect, he directed development of a plan for the “unreached poorest” or underprivileged sections in endemic areas.