More than 300 participants from across Africa are meeting in Kenya this week to discuss ways of tackling the African Trypanosomiasis, commonly known as sleeping sickness or Nagana.
The disease is said to claim more than 50,000 lives annually, while over 65 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa are currently at risk of contracting it.
The meeting on Monday is the 36th General Conference of the International Scientific Council for Trypanosomiasis Research and Control (ISCTRC).
The conference is set to unite stakeholders from more than 38 tsetse-infested African Union (AU) member states, encompassing disease control workers, scientists, researchers and key representatives.
“Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), World Health Organization (WHO), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and regional economic communities as well as the private sector players will attend the meeting,” the African Union-InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources revealed.
The disease affects both human and livestock health, limits land use and perpetuates poverty, posing a substantial barrier to the continent’s growth and development.
According to AU-IBAR, Trypanosomiasis occurs over 10 million sq km in 38 countries and about 2,804 human cases were reported in 2015.
“About 50 million cattle are at risk with 35 million trypanocide doses used and 3 million deaths of cattle reported annually. Agricultural production loss due to trypanosomiasis is estimated at $5 billion per year,” the bureau said.
The ISCTRC Conference aims to facilitate the exchange of information on tsetse, human and animal trypanosomiasis.
It further seeks to review existing control strategies and suggest appropriate research and control approaches.
ISCTRC has played a pivotal role in disseminating knowledge and promoting research and control strategies for tsetse and trypanosomiasis through its General Scientific Conferences since 1949.
“These conferences serve as platforms for sharing insights, reviewing control strategies, and recommending effective approaches to research and control,” AU-IBAR said.
At the end of the conference, the council will adopt recommendations guiding research and control of tsetse and trypanosomiasis for the next two years.
The conference’s outcomes are expected to significantly improve livelihoods across the continent, particularly in regions heavily affected by tsetse and trypanosomiasis.