By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced last week that the West African nation of Togo has eliminated human African trypanosomiasis or “sleeping sickness” as a public health problem, becoming the first country in Africa to reach this milestone.

Togo map/Alvaro1984 18

Togo’s achievement comes after more than two decades of sustained political commitment, surveillance and screening of cases. Togo has not reported any cases in the past 10 years.

“This validation makes Togo the first country in Africa to have eliminated human African trypanosomiasis or sleeping sickness,” said Hon Moustafa Mijiyawa, Minister of Health and Public Hygiene. “Thanks to the joint efforts of all health actors, the disease has been eliminated in Togo. Neighboring countries are not at the same phase and so surveillance must continue to avoid a resurgence of this disease.”

There are two forms of sleeping sickness. The first, due to Trypanosoma brucei gambiense, is found in 24 countries in west and central Africa and accounts for more than 98% of cases. The second form, due to Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense, is found in 13 countries in eastern and southern Africa and represents the rest of cases.

If left untreated sleeping sickness is almost always fatal.