Mott MacDonald, together with a group of healthcare specialists, has launched KalaCORE, a consortium to help eliminate the deadly tropical disease black fever. The consortium will focus on South Asia and East Africa and set up national support programmes as well as conduct research.
Visceral Leishmaniasis (VL), also known as kala-azar, black fever or Dumdum fever, is one of the most dangerous neglected tropical diseases. The disease, which is caused by the bite of infected sand flies, attacks the immune system and is the second-largest parasitic killer in the world (after malaria)*. VL persists in the poorest and the most marginalised communities and is associated with malnutrition, population displacement, poor housing, and lack of resources. According to the World Health Organisation, the fatality rate in developing countries can be as high as 100% within 2 years.
To help eliminate the deadly disease, Mott MacDonald, together with the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), has launched KalaCORE. This consortium combines, according to the consulting firm, the world’s leading scientific experts and practitioners in VL with the firm’s experience of managing large and complex programmes, as well as with its knowledge of health systems and health equity issues.
In the coming four years, KalaCORE will support national efforts to combat VL in South Asia (India, Bangladesh and Nepal) and East Africa (Ethiopia, Sudan and South Sudan) by making new and more effective tools for diagnosis and treatment more accessible. In addition, the partners will conduct operational research to help bridge knowledge gaps. The programme is funded by aid from the UK government.
Region specific details
In South Asia, where countries are progressing towards elimination, KalaCORE will focus on keeping transmission levels low and addressing the remaining challenges, such as poor case detection and inappropriate treatment. In East Africa, where the disease comes in epidemic waves, KalaCORE will focus on helping scale up treatment and pilot vector control methods.
* Every year, around 200,000 to 400,000 people are infected with the disease.