Neglected tropical diseases

Kinshasa: No rest for a mobile unit pursuing the end of sleeping sickness

14 February 2019 | Kinshasa -- Jeune Foire has a terrible problem with the tsetse fly. And the village in a corner of the Lutendele health area has one of the highest rates of sleeping sickness in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

WHO/Eugene Kabambi

In 2018, the National Programme for the Control of African Human Trypanosomiasis, or sleeping sickness, targeted the demise of the disease, which can be fatal, by providing free screening and treatment. It now deploys a swarm of mobile units that are technically supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) to deliver the services.

"When I first came here in 2015, there were many tsetse flies all around us – they were a real threat to our health during our agricultural and livestock activities," remembers Honoré Kiazekama, 73, a Jeune Foire resident who has been screened at least three times by the mobile unit and always comes up negative.

His neighbour has been less lucky. Says the neighbour, Sébastien Tuvivila, 49, “I tested positive for sleeping sickness when the mobile unit passed through our village.” He was immediately put on a 14-day combination drug treatment course. “It allowed me to be totally cured," he says, and now he is always eager for the mobile unit visit to make sure he stays clear of the disease.