Kala-azar, the common name for visceral leishmaniasis, is characterized by irregular bouts of fever, substantial weight loss, swelling of the spleen and liver, and anemia. If left untreated it is almost certainly fatal.
This program was filmed in the Indian state of Bihar, where 90 percent of the country’s kala-azar cases are located.
Forty per cent of these cases are now resistant to the drugs used to treat them, and the general situation regarding anti-kala-azar drugs has been difficult for decades.
In Bihar, the standard drug available is toxic and doctors must decide which poses the greater threat to their patients, the disease or its treatment.
There are high hopes that a drug now undergoing field trials will provide an affordable and effective treatment for the millions of often desperately poor people who suffer from the disease.
This film is part of the KILL OR CURE series of 57 x 25-minute documentaries produced for the BBC. These films can be bought individually or as a series.