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WHO Responds to Address “Unprecedented” Outbreak of Cutaneous Leishmaniasis in Ethiopia

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday said it has taken swift action in response to an “unprecedented” outbreak of Cutaneous Leishmaniasis in Ethiopia’s Somali region.

The WHO, in a statement issued Friday, said while the Somali region is known for being one of the six Visceral Leishmaniasis endemic regions in Ethiopia, the latest outbreak has highlighted a critical gap in knowledge and experience among local health workers in diagnosing and managing cases.

Figures from the WHO show that the first occurrence of Cutaneous Leishmaniasis was reported in the region in July 2023, and an additional 1,023 cases were reported until the end of November.

The WHO said it has initiated a comprehensive capacity-building program to address the challenge, providing training to medical doctors, health officers, nurses, and laboratory professionals from health facilities in the affected districts.

It said the training focused on the diagnosis and case management of Cutaneous Leishmaniasis based on WHO guidelines.

“The training initiative not only addresses the immediate challenge of the outbreak but also tackles the broader issue of a training gap in the region,” the statement quoted Nonhlanhla Dlamini, acting representative of WHO Ethiopia, as saying.

Dlamini said with a focus on early detection, diagnosis and management of Cutaneous Leishmaniasis, the capacity-building initiative envisaged building the overall capacity of health workers for effective prevention and control.

According to the WHO, the East African country faces the burden of both Visceral and Cutaneous Leishmaniasis, with an annual incidence of 20,000 to 40,000 cases of Cutaneous Leishmaniasis, predominantly caused by Leishmania Aethiopica sub-species.

Cutaneous Leishmaniasis is caused by a protozoan parasite transmitted by sandflies and can manifest as localized, mucocutaneous, or diffuse skin lesions, according to the WHO.

Source: English.news