Human African Trypanosomiasis

2020 Target

Global elimination (80% by 2015)

Global burden

Africa loses an estimated $1.5 billion in agricultural income each year due to the human and animal forms of the disease.

Human African trypanosomiasis is a parasitic disease that flourishes in poor and rural parts of Africa. It spreads through the bite of the tsetse fly, and without treatment in the initial phase, the disease progresses to a second stage where mental debilitation and death frequently occur within six months to three years.

Strategy for Elimination / Eradication / Control

Several treatments exist for treating early or late stages of the disease, but with the exception of nifurtimox, each has to be injected and some have severe side effects. Patients frequently present for treatment when the disease is already advanced, when more complex treatment is needed. In 2009, “NECT”—Nifurtimox and Eflornithine Combination Therapy—was introduced as the first new, improved treatment option in 25 years for stage 2 of the disease. While this is effective, it requires patients to be hospitalized for several intravenous drug treatments. This complex administration underscores the need for new oral treatments to reach and maintain elimination. A lack of diagnostics that are inexpensive and field-friendly remains a challenge for the program.