European experts scale up work on surveillance and control of leishmaniasis

Over 50 experts on leishmaniasis from 20 European countries came together in Sofia, Bulgaria on 10–12 April 2017 to discuss strategies for surveillance and control of the disease in the WHO European Region.

Leishmaniasis in the WHO European Region

Leishmaniasis, spread through a bite from an infected sandfly, remains endemic in half of the countries of the Region, and the burden of disease in some countries is still underestimated. Leishmaniasis has three main forms:

  • visceral (the most serious form of the disease)
  • cutaneous (the most common form)
  • mucocutaneous.

The Region’s goal on leishmaniasis is to eliminate deaths from visceral leishmaniasis and significantly reduce disease from both visceral and cutaneous leishmaniasis by 2020. This would contribute to improving the health of populations at risk and minimize the socioeconomic losses. The WHO Regional Office for Europe is pursuing this goal in close cooperation with the Global Leishmaniasis Programme.

Meeting conclusions

Experts from participating countries, international leishmaniasis networks and from WHO discussed the situation of leishmaniasis at regional and national levels, analysed challenges on surveillance, and identified needs and areas for WHO support.

During the meeting, WHO presented available tools and options to strengthen surveillance of leishmaniasis and offered support in tailoring the tool to the specific needs of national leishmaniasis programmes.

Participants in the meeting contributed to the finalization of the WHO regional manual on case management and surveillance of leishmaniasis. The new tool proposes a standardized approach to manage patients affected by leishmaniasis and to monitor the epidemiology of the disease across the Region.