Deadly tropical parasite unleashes wrath on Libyans
No fewer than 5,000 cases of a possibly life-threatening tropical disease have been lodged in Libya in the past six months, the country’s health ministry said Wednesday.
Leishmaniosis, which is caused by a microscopic parasite spread by sandflies, produces disfiguring scars and ulcers and one variety can assault internal organs.
The advent of this parasite is often corresponding with poor urban sanitation and abject poverty.
“There are currently 5,000 patients who are being treated,” said Ahmad al-Qarari, who heads the centre for disease control at the health ministry of Libya’s UN-backed unity government.
But he reported that these were only instances which have been lodged by the authorities, taking into account that the extent of the problem remains undisclosed because some patients do not seek medical care.
Qarari said the World Health Organization was providing Libya with treatment and aid from India and that a new batch of medication was due in the coming week.
Majority of the cases were lodged along North African country’s Mediterranean coast west of the capital, Tripoli.
Mansour Suleiman said he contracted the disease while bringing in olives in December.
“I noticed small lesions (on my skin) and at first I thought they were caused by insect bites, within a month they became ulcers,” he said at a clinic in Tripoli where authorities provide treatment.
According to WHO estimates published in 2018, there are about 700,000 to one million cases of leishmaniosis globally every year, with
20,000-30,000 people dying of the disease.
Qarari said it first appeared in Libya a century ago and not too long ago in 2006.
“The government must organise awareness campaigns continuously because this disease has become endemic,” Qarari said. The Libyan government is on high alert towards ending the menace of this disease.