Social and Economic Burden of Human Leishmaniasis

Ifeoma Okwor Department of Medical Microbiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, Manitoba, Canada; Department of Immunology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, Manitoba, Canada

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Jude Uzonna Department of Medical Microbiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, Manitoba, Canada; Department of Immunology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, Manitoba, Canada

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Leishmaniasis continues to pose a major public health problem worldwide. With new epidemics occurring in endemic areas and the spread of the disease to previously free areas because of migration, tourism, and military activities, there is a great need for the development of an effective vaccine. Leishmaniasis is a disease of the poor, occurring mostly in remote rural villages with poor housing and little or no access to modern health-care facilities. In endemic areas, diagnosis of any form of leishmaniasis puts a huge financial strain on an already meagre financial resource at both the individual and community levels. Most often families need to sell their assets (land and livestock) or take loans from informal financial outfits with heavy interest rates to pay for the diagnosis and treatment of leishmaniasis. Here, we discuss the disease with special emphasis on its socioeconomic impact on the affected individual and community. In addition, we highlight the reasons why continued research aimed at developing an effective Leishmania vaccine is necessary.

Author Notes

* Address correspondence to Jude Uzonna, Parasite Vaccines Development Laboratory, Department of Immunology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, 750 McDermot Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3E 0T5, Canada. E-mail: jude.uzonna@med.manitoba.ca

Authors' addresses: Ifeoma Okwor, Department of Medical Microbiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, Manitoba, Canada, E-mail: umokwor@myumanitoba.ca. Jude Uzonna, Department of Immunology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, Manitoba, Canada, E-mail: jude.uzonna@med.umanitoba.ca.

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