Posts tagged sleeping sickness

SLEEPING SICKNESS IN DRC
Sleeping sickness is a slow killer. National borders are not recognized by the tsetse fly; the parasite criss-crosses the forest and will happily migrate with either flies or humans and continue to infect new people and new areas.MSF has significantly reduced the number of sleeping sickness cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo through a mobile screening and treatment unit. Barrie Rooney, a laboratory scientist in DRC, talks about our work and the bold challenge MSF has taken on of eliminating the threat from this parasite: Read more.

SLEEPING SICKNESS IN DRC

Sleeping sickness is a slow killer. National borders are not recognized by the tsetse fly; the parasite criss-crosses the forest and will happily migrate with either flies or humans and continue to infect new people and new areas.

MSF has significantly reduced the number of sleeping sickness cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo through a mobile screening and treatment unit. Barrie Rooney, a laboratory scientist in DRC, talks about our work and the bold challenge MSF has taken on of eliminating the threat from this parasite: Read more.

Photo by Stefan Dold/MSF
Under any circumstances, it’s not an easy task traveling along muddy rainforest tracks by motorbike and crossing swollen rivers by dugout canoe. Now imagine doing it while carrying a refrigerator. This is exactly what UK native and Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) project coordinator Will Turner and his team will be doing for the next month as they mount an expedition to test 40,000 people in remote villages of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for sleeping sickness.
The mission is taking them to the town of Bili, among other places, in the far north of the country. Bili sits in a heavily forested area between the river Uélé and the border with Central African Republic. The area is a global hotspot for sleeping sickness, a disease transmitted by the tsetse fly that is fatal if it’s not treated. Some 85 percent of all sleeping sickness cases are found in DRC, in fact. But the region is so difficult to reach that the problem has long gone ignored.
“We came to the district because it is in the most active focus of sleeping sickness in the world,” says Turner. “Yet this fatal disease is just not tackled here due to insecurity and the remoteness of the area.”
In early April 2013, MSF’s mobile sleeping sickness team installed a laboratory and treatment ward in Bili hospital and began testing local people for the disease. Once the entire population of the town has been tested, the team will turn its focus to about 50 other villages located deep in the surrounding rainforest. People diagnosed with the disease will be referred to the hospital in Bili.
“The team will be on the road for three to four weeks in a row,” says Turner. “Sometimes they will be on motorbikes to make their way along barely accessible paths through the forest. They will move to a new village every day and sleep in tents. By doing this, we expect to find and cure several hundred infected patients.”
Read more: http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/news/article.cfm?id=6797&cat=field-news

Photo by Stefan Dold/MSF

Under any circumstances, it’s not an easy task traveling along muddy rainforest tracks by motorbike and crossing swollen rivers by dugout canoe. Now imagine doing it while carrying a refrigerator. This is exactly what UK native and Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) project coordinator Will Turner and his team will be doing for the next month as they mount an expedition to test 40,000 people in remote villages of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for sleeping sickness.

The mission is taking them to the town of Bili, among other places, in the far north of the country. Bili sits in a heavily forested area between the river Uélé and the border with Central African Republic. The area is a global hotspot for sleeping sickness, a disease transmitted by the tsetse fly that is fatal if it’s not treated. Some 85 percent of all sleeping sickness cases are found in DRC, in fact. But the region is so difficult to reach that the problem has long gone ignored.

“We came to the district because it is in the most active focus of sleeping sickness in the world,” says Turner. “Yet this fatal disease is just not tackled here due to insecurity and the remoteness of the area.”

In early April 2013, MSF’s mobile sleeping sickness team installed a laboratory and treatment ward in Bili hospital and began testing local people for the disease. Once the entire population of the town has been tested, the team will turn its focus to about 50 other villages located deep in the surrounding rainforest. People diagnosed with the disease will be referred to the hospital in Bili.

“The team will be on the road for three to four weeks in a row,” says Turner. “Sometimes they will be on motorbikes to make their way along barely accessible paths through the forest. They will move to a new village every day and sleep in tents. By doing this, we expect to find and cure several hundred infected patients.”

Read more: http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/news/article.cfm?id=6797&cat=field-news

Photo: Over the next four weeks, MSF project coordinator Will Turner and his team will mount an expedition to screen 40,000 people for sleeping sickness in remote villages of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
DRC: Through northern Congo with a fridge
Travelling along muddy rainforest tracks by motorbike and crossing swollen rivers by dugout canoe while carrying a refrigerator, a microscope and a generator is no easy task. But this is what MSF project coordinator Will Turner and his team will be doing for the next four weeks. 
Without treatment, sleeping sickess - transmitted by the tsetse fly - is always fatal.

Photo: Over the next four weeks, MSF project coordinator Will Turner and his team will mount an expedition to screen 40,000 people for sleeping sickness in remote villages of the Democratic Republic of Congo.


DRC: Through northern Congo with a fridge

Travelling along muddy rainforest tracks by motorbike and crossing swollen rivers by dugout canoe while carrying a refrigerator, a microscope and a generator is no easy task. But this is what MSF project coordinator Will Turner and his team will be doing for the next four weeks. 

Without treatment, sleeping sickess - transmitted by the tsetse fly - is always fatal.

Fighting Neglected Disease Sleeping Sickness in South Sudan

Sleeping sickness has been a major health problem in South Sudan for the last century. Transmitted by the tse tse fly, it can be fatal if left untreated. Over a ten-week period, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) mobile teams based in Kajo Keji traveled to remote villages where patients have little access to medical care, screening over 37,000 people for the disease and providing treatment to 

Photo: Sleeping Sickness in South Sudan 2012 © John Stanmeyer/VII
Fatal NeglectSleeping Sickness: The Long Road
For centuries, sleeping sickness, or Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT), caused havoc in isolated reaches of Africa, preying on people with no access to medical care or those unaware of the biological dangers they faced when wading into a foreign land.
Sleeping sickness is endemic in 36 African countries and around 60 million people are at risk of being infected. Spread by the bite of a tsetse fly, the disease was signaled by the onset of fever, headaches, and joint pain, followed by disorientation and profound fatigue that makes it difficult to stay awake—hence the name sleeping sickness.
Between 1986 and 2010, MSF teams in several countries screened nearly 3 million people and treated more than 51,000 for the disease. At present, MSF has sleeping sickness programs in several other African countries as well. Collectively, this experience has made clear the need not only for ongoing vigilance, but also for new and easier diagnostic tests and shorter, more adaptable treatment regimens for patients.
VII Photo’s John Stanmeyer joined one of MSF’s mobile HAT teams, which was designed to augment fixed-site screening and treatment activities in Central Africa, allowing him a firsthand look at the modern-day effort to battle this age-old scourge.
REGISTER NOW to join the live webcast of our conference this week on global health, neglected diseases, and R&D.

Photo: Sleeping Sickness in South Sudan 2012 © John Stanmeyer/VII

Fatal Neglect
Sleeping Sickness: The Long Road

For centuries, sleeping sickness, or Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT), caused havoc in isolated reaches of Africa, preying on people with no access to medical care or those unaware of the biological dangers they faced when wading into a foreign land.

Sleeping sickness is endemic in 36 African countries and around 60 million people are at risk of being infected. Spread by the bite of a tsetse fly, the disease was signaled by the onset of fever, headaches, and joint pain, followed by disorientation and profound fatigue that makes it difficult to stay awake—hence the name sleeping sickness.

Between 1986 and 2010, MSF teams in several countries screened nearly 3 million people and treated more than 51,000 for the disease. At present, MSF has sleeping sickness programs in several other African countries as well. Collectively, this experience has made clear the need not only for ongoing vigilance, but also for new and easier diagnostic tests and shorter, more adaptable treatment regimens for patients.

VII Photo’s John Stanmeyer joined one of MSF’s mobile HAT teams, which was designed to augment fixed-site screening and treatment activities in Central Africa, allowing him a firsthand look at the modern-day effort to battle this age-old scourge.

REGISTER NOW to join the live webcast of our conference this week on global health, neglected diseases, and R&D.

Photo: Paraguay © Anna Surinyach
Fighting Neglect
MSFhas taken a stand for the millions of people affected by visceral leishmaniasis, sleeping sickness and Chagas. These diseases are neglected by drug developers, policy makers, and media, making it difficult to get patients the treatment they need. Treatment is possible with the existing medical tools and drugs, but additional research and development toward new and more effective diagnostics and treatments are desperately needed to address the overwhelming neglect of people whose needs are not met by pharmaceutical companies.
Learn more about neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in our Special Report.

Photo: Paraguay © Anna Surinyach

Fighting Neglect

MSFhas taken a stand for the millions of people affected by visceral leishmaniasis, sleeping sickness and Chagas. These diseases are neglected by drug developers, policy makers, and media, making it difficult to get patients the treatment they need. Treatment is possible with the existing medical tools and drugs, but additional research and development toward new and more effective diagnostics and treatments are desperately needed to address the overwhelming neglect of people whose needs are not met by pharmaceutical companies.


Learn more about neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in our Special Report.

SWAT Sleeping Sickness: A Call to Action

MSF’s mobile sleeping sickness team are working in areas throughout central Africa. The aim is simple: to save lives and work together with national programmes toward sustained elimination of the disease in the areas in which we are working. Will Turner spent last year working as a key part of MSF’s mobile sleeping sickness team in areas throughout central Africa, and is now in South Sudan. Please leave your questions and comments for Will in the comments box below his blog post.

Sleeping  Sickness: Treating a Neglected Disease in Central African Republic

Sleeping sickness, which is transmitted by the tsetse fly, is mainly found in central Africa. During the first stage of the illness, people feel feverish and weak, but once the parasite enters their central nervous system, their symptoms change, and they become confused, lose their coordination, and suffer sleep disturbances and personality changes. Their mental faculties deteriorate until eventually they sink into a coma—the long sleep which gives the illness its name. Since 2006, monitoring and controlling sleeping sickness in the remote and inaccessible southeast of CAR has been particularly difficult due to cross-border attacks by the Ugandan rebel group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army.
This past July, MSF’s mobile sleeping sickness team spent 18 days screening and treating people for the disease in Mboki, in CAR’s Haut M’boumou region. In the week before screening started, community health workers, with the help of local authorities, traveled around the area raising awareness of the disease and passing on the message that free testing and treatment were available.Photo: An MSF health worker checks a young boy for signs of sleeping sickness in Mboki, Central African Republic.CAR 2012 © Sebastian Bolesch

Sleeping Sickness: Treating a Neglected Disease in Central African Republic

Sleeping sickness, which is transmitted by the tsetse fly, is mainly found in central Africa. During the first stage of the illness, people feel feverish and weak, but once the parasite enters their central nervous system, their symptoms change, and they become confused, lose their coordination, and suffer sleep disturbances and personality changes. Their mental faculties deteriorate until eventually they sink into a coma—the long sleep which gives the illness its name.

Since 2006, monitoring and controlling sleeping sickness in the remote and inaccessible southeast of CAR has been particularly difficult due to cross-border attacks by the Ugandan rebel group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army.

This past July, MSF’s mobile sleeping sickness team spent 18 days screening and treating people for the disease in Mboki, in CAR’s Haut M’boumou region. In the week before screening started, community health workers, with the help of local authorities, traveled around the area raising awareness of the disease and passing on the message that free testing and treatment were available.

Photo: An MSF health worker checks a young boy for signs of sleeping sickness in Mboki, Central African Republic.
CAR 2012 © Sebastian Bolesch

Fighting Neglect: Sleeping Sickness

Sleeping Sickness is a fatal and much neglected disease that plagues parts of Africa.

Learn more about sleeping sickness and other neglected diseases.

Chasing Sleeping Sickness in Central Africa

An MSF team is traveling around isolated villages and regions in central African countries in order to offer treatment and screening for sleeping sickness, a parasitic disease spread by the tsetse fly that can be fatal if it is not treated.

What Uniting to Combat Tropical Diseases Will Really Require

Excerpt from an article by Dr Unni KarunakaraInternational, President of MSF first published in The Huffington Post, UK


“MSF treats sleeping sickness and several other of the life-threatening diseases under discussion in London*, including Chagas disease and kala azar, and while we are glad that attention is being focused on them now, we are concerned that the conference is painting too simple a picture of how we can finally be rid once and for all of these diseases.

Continued and expanded drug donations from the pharmaceutical industry will be part of the solution to address some diseases under discussion and alleviate a great deal of human suffering. But that strategy will not meet the challenges of treating other, more challenging diseases like Chagas, kala azar or sleeping sickness.  For these life-threatening diseases, drug distribution alone isn’t enough—we will need to invest strongly in national screening and treatment programs, as well as the development of new and better diagnostic tests and medicines.”

*—This is referring to a conference which happened in London  Monday 30 January, to attempt to eliminate this disease by 2020 along with the elimination or control of nine other so-called neglected diseases.

Photo: CAR 2011 © Anna Surinyach (An MSF staff member tests a child for sleeping sickness)

What Uniting to Combat Tropical Diseases Will Really Require


Excerpt from an article by Dr Unni KarunakaraInternational, President of MSF first published in The Huffington Post, UK


“MSF treats sleeping sickness and several other of the life-threatening diseases under discussion in London*, including Chagas disease and kala azar, and while we are glad that attention is being focused on them now, we are concerned that the conference is painting too simple a picture of how we can finally be rid once and for all of these diseases.

Continued and expanded drug donations from the pharmaceutical industry will be part of the solution to address some diseases under discussion and alleviate a great deal of human suffering. But that strategy will not meet the challenges of treating other, more challenging diseases like Chagas, kala azar or sleeping sickness. For these life-threatening diseases, drug distribution alone isn’t enough—we will need to invest strongly in national screening and treatment programs, as well as the development of new and better diagnostic tests and medicines.”


*—This is referring to a conference which happened in London Monday 30 January, to attempt to eliminate this disease by 2020 along with the elimination or control of nine other so-called neglected diseases.

Photo: CAR 2011 © Anna Surinyach (An MSF staff member tests a child for sleeping sickness)

The only realistic option for treating sleeping sickness today is to rely on specialised mobile medical teams that travel to affected areas to test and treat, as most patients with the disease are located in remote areas in fragile states. Even in these difficult contexts and with limited funding, mobile teams have done a great job…
…So if we are serious about eliminating this disease, we need properly funded treatment programmes that include screening and surveillance; continued support for innovative partnerships such as DNDi to deliver newer and better drugs and diagnostics; and better policies to develop affordable medicines for patients in poor countries; and public authorities need to step up and take the lead on developing and maintaining these programmes.

Dr Unni Karunakara, International President of Medecins Sans Frontieres for Huffington Post— Speaking to the state of the treatment of sleeping sickness


Read the rest of the article here.

Follow Dr Unni Karunakara on Twitter

In 2009, a new, safe, effective drug combination for human African trypanosomiasis, or sleeping sickness, was added to the World Health Organization’s Essential Medicines List— the result of an initiative led by MSF, its research and epidemiology center, Epicentre, and DNDi.

Sleeping sickness is among the world’s most neglected diseases. Affecting up to 70,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa each year, it is spread by the bite of the tsetse fly and can be fatal if not addressed. MSF teams began treating it in Uganda in 1986 and soon opened treatment programs in other affected countries.

For years, the only drug available was melarsoprol, a toxic arsenic derivative that killed 1 in 20 patients. From 2001 through 2008, Epicentre conducted research at MSF clinics in Uganda, Republic of Congo, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where a drug called eflornithine was already in use. Though an improvement over melarsoprol, eflornithine had its own onerous requirements: 56 intravenous infusions over 14 days. 

MSF teams thought to combine eflornithine with another drug, nifurtimox. Trial results proved that NECT, as the combination is known, was equally effective and could be administered in just 14 infusions over 7 days. NECT was the first new treatment for sleeping sickness in 25 years. Today, the WHO provides it free of charge to Ministries of Health in affected countries, thanks to drug donations by Bayer and Sanofi-aventis, and to kits created by MSF’s logistics and supplies division. MSF continues to support sleeping sickness treatment in DRC, Central African Republic, Uganda, and South Sudan, and, overall, has treated nearly 50,000 people for the disease over the past 25 years.

Read more in the 2010 Annual Report

Photo: © Marco Baroncini/Corbis

In 2009, a new, safe, effective drug combination for human African trypanosomiasis, or sleeping sickness, was added to the World Health Organization’s Essential Medicines Listthe result of an initiative led by MSF, its research and epidemiology center, Epicentre, and DNDi.

Sleeping sickness is among the world’s most neglected diseases. Affecting up to 70,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa each year, it is spread by the bite of the tsetse fly and can be fatal if not addressed. MSF teams began treating it in Uganda in 1986 and soon opened treatment programs in other affected countries.

For years, the only drug available was melarsoprol, a toxic arsenic derivative that killed 1 in 20 patients. From 2001 through 2008, Epicentre conducted research at MSF clinics in Uganda, Republic of Congo, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where a drug called eflornithine was already in use. Though an improvement over melarsoprol, eflornithine had its own onerous requirements: 56 intravenous infusions over 14 days.

MSF teams thought to combine eflornithine with another drug, nifurtimox. Trial results proved that NECT, as the combination is known, was equally effective and could be administered in just 14 infusions over 7 days. NECT was the first new treatment for sleeping sickness in 25 years. Today, the WHO provides it free of charge to Ministries of Health in affected countries, thanks to drug donations by Bayer and Sanofi-aventis, and to kits created by MSF’s logistics and supplies division. MSF continues to support sleeping sickness treatment in DRC, Central African Republic, Uganda, and South Sudan, and, overall, has treated nearly 50,000 people for the disease over the past 25 years.

Read more in the 2010 Annual Report

Photo: © Marco Baroncini/Corbis