Chad Eliminates Sleeping Sickness, Emerges 51st Nation Recognised by WHO

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced that Chad has successfully eliminated the gambiense form of human African trypanosomiasis, also known as sleeping sickness, marking a significant public health milestone.

This makes Chad the 51st country to achieve the elimination of a Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD), surpassing the halfway mark towards the 100-country target set for 2030.

In a press release by the WHO, it was stated that Chad is the first country in 2024 to be acknowledged for eradicating a neglected tropical disease.

This accomplishment aligns with the global targets set by the WHO's Road Map for NTDs 2021-2030.

Commending Chad for the feat, WHO Director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, expressed his delight in having the nation joined the growing list of countries that have eliminated at least one NTD, bringing the 100-country target closer to realisation.

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Sleeping sickness, which initially presents flu-like symptoms but can lead to severe neurological issues and death, has been controlled through improved early diagnosis, treatment, and effective surveillance. WHO's validation of Chad's elimination efforts highlights the country's commitment to public health.

Seven other countries have previously been validated by WHO for eliminating the gambiense form of human African trypanosomiasis. They are : Togo (2020), Benin (2021), Côte d'Ivoire (2021), Uganda (2022), Equatorial Guinea (2022), Ghana (2023), and now Chad (2024). Rwanda is the only country to have eliminated the rhodesiense form of the disease as a public health problem.

 

Hon. Dr Abdel Modjid Abderahim Mahamat, Chad's Minister of Health, praised the dedication of health workers, communities, and partners in achieving this milestone. He emphasised the country's ongoing commitment to tackling other neglected tropical diseases and improving the health of all Chadians.

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As of June 2024, the document showed that 20 countries in the WHO African region have eliminated at least one NTD, with Togo leading by eliminating four diseases, followed by Benin and Ghana with three diseases each.

Human African trypanosomiasis, transmitted by tsetse flies infected with the Trypanosome parasite, has two forms: the gambiense form, which accounts for over 92 per cent of cases and is found in 24 countries in West and Central Africa, including Chad, and the rhodesiense form, found in 13 countries in East and Southern Africa. Control measures focus on reducing the reservoirs of infection and the presence of tsetse flies, with early diagnosis significantly improve treatment outcomes.

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