Animal health

Programme Against African Trypanosomosis (PAAT)

African trypanosomosis is a lethal parasitic disease caused by single-celled organisms transmitted by blood-sucking tsetse flies. The disease affects both humans (sleeping sickness) and livestock (nagana). Trypanosomosis lies at the heart of Africa’s struggle against poverty, as it severely constrains agricultural production and causes food insecurity in 38 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Established in 1997, the Programme Against African Trypanosomosis (PAAT), brings together FAO, the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and the African Union-Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) to:

  • provide affected countries with coordinated technical support to reduce and ultimately eliminate the burden of the disease;
  • generate and disseminate technical and scientific publications, collate disease data and analyse trends;
  • develop policies, promote best practices and provide a forum for the exchange of experiences and mutual learning.

This is further advanced through:

  • mapping disease risk for decision-making (e.g. the Atlases of tsetse flies and trypanosomosis);
  • enhancing capacity of veterinary services and livestock keepers by developing and disseminating adapted, cost-effective technologies and tools to control trypanosomosis.
Controlling the disease in animals

The Progressive Control Pathway (PCP) for African animal trypanosomosis is a staged, stepwise approach to structure the road to disease reduction and elimination. It provides guidance to endemic countries on how to assess and improve their epidemiological status and capacities for disease control. The approach recently received a major boost with the launch of a new project (COntrolling and progressively Minimizing the Burden of Animal Trypanosomosis’ (COMBAT), which will promote the roll-out of the PCP in 13 enzootic countries.

Eliminating the disease in humans

Human African trypanosomosis (also known as sleeping sickness) caused devastating epidemics during the 20th century but thanks to intense and coordinated efforts, the disease is now at a historic low. Fewer than 1 000 cases were reported in 2018, and WHO are targeting the disease for elimination.

FAO and WHO collaborate closely to provide assistance to endemic countries. Together we develop and manage the Atlas of sleeping sickness and promote One Health interventions against human and animal trypanosomosis.