Government of Uganda launches initiative to eradicate sleeping sickness

The government of Uganda launched a project on July 30 in Kampala, Uganda to help eradicate Trypanosoma brucei gambiense sleeping sickness in the country.

The project is being carried by the Coordinating Office for Control of Trypanosomiasis in Uganda, along with the Uganda Ministry of Health, Uganda Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Makerere University and FIND.

Sleeping sickness is a deadly disease caused by parasites and transmitted by tsetse flies. It is found in rural parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

Uganda is the only country in the world to have both acute and chronic cases of Trypanosomiasis. Without treatment, those infected by Trypanosomiasis will die.

The new project seeks to eradicate the chronic form of sleeping sickness, found in the Northwest parts of Uganda, and uses three new diagnostic tool developed by FIND and other partners.

The first test performed is SD BIOLINE HAT, which is a rapid diagnostic test that identifies host antibodies to fight off parasites. It is inexpensive and easy to use, minimizing costs of training health workers. The test works by diagnosing the blood from a finger prick in 15 minutes.

Positive results of the SD BIOLINE HAT test are examined under a LED fluorescence microscope. If sleeping sickness carrying parasites are not visible with a microscope a LAMP test is performed.

The LAMP test can detect pathogen DNA in a sample without requiring extensive laboratory equipment. The results of the test can be seen with the naked eye.

This initiative is a three-year project to be carried out in 166 health facilities across Northwestern Uganda.