Human African trypanosomiasis

WHO meeting on elimination of human African trypanosomiasis (Trypanosoma brucei gambiense), 3–5 December 2012, Geneva

15 December 2012 | Geneva
A meeting on elimination of human African trypanosomiasis caused by infection with Trypanosoma brucei gambiense was held on 3–5 December 2012 at the headquarters of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland. Focal points of national control programmes and experts from WHO collaborating centres convened to discuss the feasibility, strategies and criteria for eliminating the disease.

After three days of debate, the representatives of endemic countries agreed and committed to the goal of eliminating the disease according to the target set in the WHO roadmap on neglected tropical diseases, namely elimination of human African trypanosomiasis as a public-health problem by 2020.

However, the group considered a more adequate definition of elimination to be “the reduction to zero of the incidence of infection caused by a specific pathogen in a defined geographical area, as a result of deliberate efforts; continued actions to prevent re-establishment of transmission may be required” as recommended by WHO’s Strategic and Advisory group for Neglected Tropical Diseases. The meeting therefore agreed to keep the goal of eliminating human African trypanosomiasis as a public-health problem by 2020, defined as the detection of less than 1 case per 10 000 inhabitants in at least 90% of endemic foci in 2020, with the total number of cases reported annually at continental level to below 2000. Efforts should nevertheless be maintained to achieve the interruption of transmission reaching zero cases.

Following the agreement on elimination principles, a strategic plan will be elaborated by WHO to conduct pilot testing in countries for planning and implementing national elimination strategies.

A biennial meeting with endemic countries to monitor progress in the elimination process is scheduled to begin from 2014.

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