MSF treats sleeping sickness in remote DRC areas
An estimated 42,000 people need tested and treated for sleeping sickness within eight months. This neglected tropical disease causes fever, joint pain, headaches and itching. When people receive treatment during the early stages of the illness, there are more chance of a cure. During the second stage of the sickness, parasites infiltrate the blood-brain barrier to infect the patient’s central nervous system. This is why patients report a disturbed sleep cycle, giving the disease the name sleeping sickness.
In May 2015, MSF nurses, doctors and lab technicians created mobile medical teams to travel in Ango, Province Orientale and Banda Territory, close to the border of the Central African Republic. They have visited villages that have had high disease rates throughout history. Since May, 12,183 people have been screened; 91 of them have had sleeping sickness.
“We are making a big effort to reach people who live beyond the villages,” Rolland Kaya, MSF’s head of mission for sleeping sickness, said. “We are focusing on the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach groups of people, such as refugees and nomads living in the bush. A team of public health sensitizers travels to remote farming and fishing communities to let them know we are in the area. We’re encouraging these people to come and get tested because they are most at risk of being bitten and infected by the flies.”