This project aims to provide an effective, sustainable and cost affordable way to fight this deadly disease.
Sleeping sickness is caused by two forms of a parasite found throughout Africa. In Uganda this parasite has used the cattle population as a reservoir. The tsetse fly then passes the parasite to the human.
This often fatal disease is hard to detect and expensive and difficult to treat.
Members of the Centre for Infectious Diseases at the University of Edinburgh are working, as part of an ambitious public-private partnership which aims to ultimately stamp out sleeping sickness from south east Uganda.
There is an emerging public health crisis in Uganda with the areas affected by acute sleeping sickness steadily moving towards the areas affected with chronic sleeping sickness.
Eight new districts of Uganda have become newly affected in the last eight years and less than 100 km now separates the diseases.
For every person receiving treatment for acute human sleeping sickness in Uganda today, 12 people die undiagnosed.
Visual discrimination between the human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) parasites is impossible, and diagnosis and treatment differ.
Convergence of the two diseases would present a catastrophic health problem, impeding diagnosis and treatment.
Our project aims to fight against sleeping sickness, the greatest cause of mortality, even ahead of HIV/AIDS in some African countries.
Rather than ‘only’ aiming to stop the increase of the human disease by treating the cattle reservoir, this project also aims to prove its efficacy and its sustainability as the further cost of treatment for farmers should not exceed 0.2 USD per animal per month.
The first phase of the ‘Stamping Out Sleeping Sickness’ campaign brings together disease control professionals, researchers and students from Uganda and the UK and local livestock owners.
The scheme has been set up and is jointly managed by the University of Edinburgh (UK) and Makerere University (Uganda) together with the international veterinary laboratory CEVA Santé Animal (headquartered in France).
It is further supported by the pan European private equity firm IK Investment Partners.
This project is under the direction of Sue Welburn, Professor of Medical and Veterinary Molecular Epidemiology in the School of Biomedical Sciences’ Centre for Infectious Diseases.
This campaign has received support, financial and in-kind from the French veterinary pharmaceutical company CEVA Santé Animal and IK Investment Partners.
Together with research inputs from the World Health Organisation, The Wellcome Trust and Department for International Development (DFID) Animal Health Programme, Stamp Out Sleeping Sickness represents a combined investment of more than US$900,000.
This article was published on Apr 8, 2013