Surveillance of leishmaniasis in the WHO European Region, 2016 and Global leishmaniasis surveillance update, 1998–2016
Weekly epidemiological record
Leishmaniasis is a neglected disease that is endemic in all WHO regions. The WHO European Region (EUR) has the lowest proportion of the global burden, at approximately 2%, yet most countries in the Region have acknowledged an underestimated or undetermined burden of the disease. The disease is considered complex in the Region, as there is a variety of Leishmania species, phlebotomine vectors and hosts, necessitating understanding of the epidemiological contexts within and among countries. Zoonotic leishmaniasis is the primary form of the disease in the Region and is of substantial public health importance.
Immigration and forced displacement due to war in or close to the Region are increasing the number of leishmaniasis cases in countries with no or few previous cases. HIV infection has also contributed to the increasing number of cases, as co-infection with HIV increases the risk for visceral leishmaniasis (VL) by 100–2320 times.
The World Health Assembly resolution on leishmaniasis (WHA60.13) highlighted an urgent need for updated information on the extent of the problem of leishmaniasis in the EUR to ensure adequate regional and national policies and strategies to control the disease.
Epidemiological surveillance of leishmaniasis is being strengthened in the Region by collaboration at country, regional and global levels and among ministries of health in endemic and non-endemic countries. The objectives have been to identify changes in the trends of the disease, detect outbreaks, establish appropriate prevention measures, control planning and resource allocation and evaluate the effectiveness of strategies and interventions in control programmes. Surveillance has been further strengthened by consultation and collaboration on a standardized approach to case management, case definitions and reporting tools4 and by promoting collection of data on individual patients and use of an online platform for data collection, use and dissemination at national, regional and global levels.