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WHO validates Chad’s elimination of sleeping sickness

by Haruna Gimba
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By Haruna Gimba with agency report

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

This remarkable achievement marks the first neglected tropical disease to be eliminated in the country.

Moreover, with this accomplishment, Chad becomes the first country in 2024 to eliminate a neglected tropical disease, positioning itself as the 51st country globally to reach such a significant milestone.

This achievement also signifies the first step beyond the midpoint towards the global target of 100 countries by 2030.

The 100-country target is one of the four overarching global targets set by the Roadmap for Neglected Tropical Diseases 2021–2030.

Sleeping sickness, which can initially cause flu-like symptoms, eventually leads to behavioural changes, confusion, sleep cycle disturbances, or even coma, often resulting in death.

However, improved access to early diagnosis and treatment, along with enhanced surveillance and response measures, has demonstrated that countries can control and ultimately eliminate transmission.

So far, seven countries have been validated by WHO for eliminating the gambiense form of human African trypanosomiasis:

Togo (2020), Benin (2021), Côte d’Ivoire (2021), Uganda (2022), Equatorial Guinea (2022), Ghana (2023), and Chad (2024).

Additionally, the rhodesiense form of the disease has been eliminated as a public health problem in one country, Rwanda, as validated by WHO in 2022.

As of June 2024, across the WHO African region, 20 countries have eliminated at least one neglected tropical disease, with Togo having eliminated four diseases and Benin and Ghana having eliminated three diseases each.

This collective progress is a testament to the effectiveness of coordinated global health efforts and the dedication of various stakeholders.

In his address, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, congratulated Chad and its people for this significant achievement.

He noted that Chad now joins the growing group of countries that have eliminated at least one neglected tropical disease, thereby bringing the 100-country target closer and within reach.

He emphasized that this milestone reflects the potential for success through persistent efforts and international collaboration.

On his part, Minister of Health of Chad, Dr Abdel Modjid Abderahim Mahamat highlighted that the elimination of the gambiense form of human African trypanosomiasis underscores their commitment to improving the health of the Chadian people.

According to him, this achievement results from years of dedicated efforts by health workers, communities, and partners.

He further stressed the importance of maintaining this momentum to tackle other neglected tropical diseases and ensure a healthier future for all Chadians.

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