Chad Becomes First Country To Eliminate Sleeping Sickness In 2024


By: Modupe Adeniyi. Freelance Health Reporter.

Africa map showing Chad Republic.

Africa map showing Chad Republic.


FRIDAY, JUNE 21, 2024. In a landmark achievement for public health, Chad has successfully eliminated the gambiense form of human African trypanosomiasis, commonly known as sleeping sickness. This accomplishment, recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO), marks Chad as the first country to eliminate a neglected tropical disease (NTD) in 2024.


Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, praised this significant milestone:


"I congratulate the government and the people of Chad for this achievement. It is great to see Chad join the growing group of countries that have eliminated at least one NTD. The 100-country target is nearer and within reach."


Sleeping sickness, a potentially fatal disease, initially presents with flu-like symptoms but can progress to severe neurological complications if left untreated. However, with improved access to early diagnosis, treatment, and robust surveillance, countries can control and eventually eliminate disease transmission just as Chad did.


The country's Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Abdel Modjid Abderahim Mahamat, emphasized the collaborative effort behind this achievement:


"The elimination of the gambiense form of human African trypanosomiasis in Chad reflects our commitment to improving the health of our people. This achievement results from years of dedicated efforts by our health workers, communities, and partners."


Chad becomes the 51st country to eliminate a neglected tropical disease, bringing the world closer to the WHO's ambitious goal of 100 countries achieving such elimination by 2030.


Only six other African nations have eliminated the gambiense form of sleeping sickness since 2020, including Togo, Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Uganda, Equatorial Guinea and Ghana. Additionally, Rwanda has eliminated the rhodesiense form of the disease.


Africa continues to make impressive strides in combating neglected tropical diseases. As of June 2024, 20 countries in the WHO African region have eliminated at least one such disease, with Togo leading the charge by eliminating four.


Chad's success demonstrates that with determination, resources and collaborative efforts, even the most challenging public health issues can be overcome. 


About Human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness)


Human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), or sleeping sickness, is a parasitic disease transmitted by tsetse flies in sub-Saharan Africa. Two forms exist: T. b. gambiense in West and Central Africa, and T. b. rhodesiense in East Africa. The disease primarily affects rural populations and can pose a risk to travelers in endemic regions.


HAT transmission involves a complex interaction between humans, tsetse flies and animal reservoirs. Control strategies focus on reducing parasite reservoirs through detection and treatment, as well as minimizing human-tsetse contact.


WHO efforts have significantly reduced HAT cases from an estimated 300,000 in 1995 to fewer than 1,000 reported annually since 2019. This decline is attributed to improved surveillance and control measures, with about 2.5 million people screened yearly. Chad's recent elimination of HAT as a public health problem exemplifies the success of these ongoing efforts in combating this once-widespread disease.


Source: World Health Organization Newsroom.


Published: June 21, 2024

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