Programme Against African Trypanosomosis (PAAT)

Monitoring the elimination of human African trypanosomiasis: Update to 2018



Human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), a lethal disease transmitted by tsetse flies, wreaked havoc in Africa at different times in the 20th century. Over the past twenty years, huge efforts made by a broad coalition of stakeholders curbed the last epidemic and brought the disease to the brink of elimination. In this paper, the latest figures on disease occurrence, geographical distribution and control activities are presented. Strong evidence indicates that the elimination of sleeping sickness ‘as a public health problem’ by 2020 is well within reach. In particular, fewer than one thousand new cases were reported in 2018, and the area where the risk of infection is estimated as moderate, high or very high has shrunk to less than 200,000 km2. More than half of this area is in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The interruption of transmission of the gambiense form, targeted by the World Health Organization (WHO) for 2030, will require renewed efforts to tackle a range of expected and unexpected challenges. The rhodesiense form of the disease represents a small part of the overall HAT burden. For this form, the problem of under detection is on the rise and, because of an important animal reservoir, the elimination of disease transmission is not envisioned at this stage.

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