Bihar governor R S Gavai on Monday inaugurated a five-day inter-country workshop on kala-azar elimination with participants pledging to eradicate the disease from Bihar by 2010.
Describing kala-azar as a major public health problem, Gavai said even countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, Brazil, Sudan and some others have been hit by the disease.
The governor said people are now keen to eradicate the disease and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued necessary guidelines in this regard. "We hope to eradicate kala-azar as the society has accepted it as a challenge," Gavai said exhorting the people to join hands in combating the disease.
The programme was organised on the premises of Rajendra Memorial Research Institute of Medical Sciences (RMRIMS), Patna City.
Addressing the gathering, health minister Chandramohan Rai lamented that though the kala-azar has spread its tentacles in different countries, it had assumed alarming proportions in Bihar. He said that the state government had taken it as a challenge and a task force headed by former Union health minister and kala-azar expert Dr CP Thakur had been constituted.
The minister said if things went well the disease would be eliminated by 2010.
On his part, Dr Thakur lauded the state government for taking several steps for elimination of the disease.
Dr Chusak of WHO said that as per official estimate, 200 million people are at the risk of contracting this disease worldwide.
Dr Chusak said that the disease affected poorest of the poor of the society and it led to poor development of the area.
Earlier, RMRIMS director P Das welcomed the guests, Dr Neema Verma proposed the vote of thanks.
According to WHO, 31 out of 38 districts of Bihar are kala-azar endemic.
The workshop is being sponsored by WHO and participants from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and India are taking part in it.