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U-N Health Agency Calls for Funds to Fight Afghan Skin Disease - 2002-06-28


The World Heath Organization has appealed for more than one-million dollars in emergency aid to help fight the spread of a disfiguring skin disease affecting Afghanistan.

Health officials say an estimated 270-thousand people in Afghanistan have already been affected with the disease known as leishmaniasis. They say they have seen some compounds in Kabul where 100-percent of family members have the disease.

The World Health Organization says that without intervention, the outbreak could quickly spread to the large numbers of refugees returning home from Pakistan.

The highly contagious disease is spread through the bite of an infected female sandfly, but is not fatal. Officials say Kabul is a perfect breeding ground for the disease -- which is most commonly found in areas affected by war, poverty and unsanitary conditions.

The World Health Organization says the disfigurement from the disease is permanent, but drugs and preventative measures like insecticide treated bed-nets can be used to protect healthy people.

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