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Chad Has Eliminated Sleeping Sickness, Becoming The 51st Country Globally To Eradicate A Neglected Tropical Disease

WHO has congratulated Chad for becoming one of the countries to eliminate sleeping sickness, a neglected tropical disease

In a groundbreaking achievement, Chad has eliminated the gambiense form of human African trypanosomiasis, also known as sleeping sickness. It became the first country in 2024 to be recognised for eliminating a neglected tropical disease, as confirmed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

This landmark makes Chad the 51st country globally to attain such a milestone, underscoring the nation’s significant progress in public health.

This accomplishment represents the halfway mark towards the WHO’s ambitious goal of having 100 countries eliminate at least one neglected tropical disease by 2030. This target is part of the WHO’s 2021-2030 Roadmap for Neglected Tropical Diseases, which sets four major global health objectives.

“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,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

Sleeping sickness, or human African trypanosomiasis, the disease Chad has successfully eliminated, initially causes flu-like symptoms but can eventually lead to severe neurological issues, including behavior changes, confusion, sleep disturbances, coma, and often death. The key to Chad’s success has been improved access to early diagnosis and treatment, alongside robust surveillance and response measures.

Chad joins a prestigious list of countries that have eradicated the gambiense form of this disease, including Togo (2020), Benin (2021), Côte d’Ivoire (2021), Uganda (2022), Equatorial Guinea (2022), and Ghana (2023). The rhodesiense form of the disease has also been eliminated as a public health problem in Rwanda, validated by WHO in 2022.

“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. We will continue this momentum to tackle other neglected tropical diseases and ensure a healthier future for all Chadians,” said Hon. Dr. Abdel Modjid Abderahim Mahamat, Chad’s Minister of Health.

As of June 2024, 20 countries within the WHO African region have eliminated at least one neglected tropical disease. Notably, Togo has eliminated four such diseases, while Benin and Ghana have each eradicated three. This growing list of successes highlights the potential for achieving the global target and underscores the importance of sustained public health efforts and international cooperation.

Melissa Enoch

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