Global Health Academy

Award for sleeping sickness campaign

A project aimed at eradicating sleeping sickness in Uganda has secured a prestigious award.

Stamp Out Sleeping sickness (SOS) is a collaborative campaign involving students and experts from the University of Edinburgh who are working in close partnership with colleagues from the University of Makerere in Uganda.

Their efforts have been recognised by the Ugandan government, which has bestowed the “Collaboration and Networking across Government Award”.

The SOS campaign is tackling what is one of Africa’s biggest public health challenges. Health professionals are battling to prevent the two types of sleeping sickness prevalent in Uganda - acute and chronic - from converging.

Doctors fear that if the two forms merge, the diseases will be impossible to differentiate and treat with drugs that are currently available to them.


In this video, students and academics from Edinburgh and in Uganda explain how their work is helping to address sleeping sickness.



Devastating illness

Sleeping sickness is of huge concern to many areas of Africa and in some countries is a greater cause of mortality than HIV/AIDS. For every person receiving treatment for acute human sleeping sickness in Uganda today, 12 people die undiagnosed.

Also known as Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT), sleeping sickness is an infectious disease caused by a parasite known as Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense and is carried by tsetse flies. Cattle are carriers of the human infective parasite.

By controlling the disease in cattle it is possible to greatly reduce or stop transmission to humans while also protecting the animals. The SOS campaign brings together disease control professionals, researchers and students from Uganda and the UK, along with local livestock owners and has, to date, provided emergency treatment for around 500,000 cattle in Northern Uganda.

Partnership working

Founded in 2006, the SOS partnership has brought together a number of organisations, including the College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources & Biosecurity at Makerere, Uganda; the University of Edinburgh (supported by the UK Department for International Development); IKARE, a venture philanthropy charity supported by IK Investment Partners; and Ceva Santé Animale, a global veterinary health company, and the Coordinating Office for Control of Trypanosomiasis in Uganda.

In addition to stopping the increase of the human disease by treating the cattle reservoir, SOS also aims to prove its efficacy and sustainability by making it affordable for farmers.

Global Health Academy

One of four Global Academies at the University of Edinburgh, the Global Health Academy’s key objectives are to:

  • Offer world leading interdisciplinary postgraduate degrees to help combat global health challenges.
  • Engage in global collaborative research to make life better.
  • Participate and lead in the creation of global health networks and partnerships.

The Academy also acts as a forum for encouraging the sharing of best practice ideas, processes and information.