Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT) control

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Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT), also known as ‘sleeping sickness', is a vector-borne parasitic disease capable of causing explosive outbreaks particularly in remote areas. It occurs in 36 countries of sub-Saharan Africa with over 60 million people at risk.

Sleeping sickness is transmitted through bites from the tsetse fly (Glossina Genus found in Sub-Saharan Africa) and is characterized by bouts of fever, headaches, joint pain and itching followed by confusion, sensory disturbances and poor coordination. Disturbance of the sleep cycle, which gives the disease its name, is an important feature of the disease. Without treatment, sleeping sickness is fatal.

HAT control programmes have been successfully implemented since the early 1960s with significant reduction of the prevalence of the disease. However, there has been a resurgence of HAT in many countries since the late 1980s. This situation led WHO and partners to initiate a strong awareness and advocacy campaign in the late 90's leading to the launch in 2001 of a public-private partnership program to reinforce HAT control.

The goal of the WHO programme is the elimination of the disease as a public health problem by 2015.

WHO AFRO supports countries to implement HAT control strategies, which consist of continuous surveillance of the population at risk, passive and active case detection and treatment, reduction of animal reservoirs through selective or mass treatment of livestock, and intense vector control activities in highly endemic and epidemic areas.

WHO/AFRO also provides support through :

  • coordinating activities in endemic countries;
  • mobilizing a wide range of partners;
  • strengthening capacities in countries;
  • provision of technical assistance to national control programmes.

The focal person for HAT control within the regional program for the control of neglected diseases is Dr Diarra Abdoulaye: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it