Neglected Tropical Diseases

Helping eliminate sleeping sickness by 2030

Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT), also known as sleeping sickness, remains a threat to communities in remote regions of Africa. Caused by parasites and transmitted by infected tsetse flies, sleeping sickness is fatal if left untreated. While cases have dropped dramatically in recent years thanks to better monitoring and wider treatment options, complex administration methods remain a challenge in underserved populations. Hope of eliminating this disease is on the horizon with a potential single-dose oral treatment, which, if approved, will be donated to the World Health Organization via Foundation S. Progress in recent years has come from private and public partnerships such as our long-standing work with the WHO and non-profit organization Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi).

Together, we have the potential to change the treatment paradigm and support the WHO's goal of eliminating sleeping sickness by 2030.

Sleeping Sickness: Leaving No One Behind

Sleeping sickness, or Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT), is usually fatal without treatment. Transmitted by the bite of an infected tsetse fly, it causes neuropsychiatric symptoms, including aggressiveness, psychosis, a debilitating disruption of sleep patterns, and ultimately death.

There are two forms of sleeping sickness: T.b, gambiense, the more common variant, and T.b. rhodesiense, an acute form of this parasitic disease. While tremendous progress has been made in reducing the number of cases each year, until recently, there had been little innovation in treatment options for patients with the T.b. rhodesiense variant. 

In a Nutshell


reduction in cases since 2001

Number of sleeping sickness cases since 1990 (source: WHO, 2022)
Number of sleeping sickness cases since 1990 (source: WHO, 2022)

How We Are Addressing the Problem

Our efforts to develop treatment options and eliminate sleeping sickness aren’t new.

We have been collaborating with the non-profit organization DNDi since 2009, and with the World Health Organization since 2001. Together, we developed the first complete multi-dose oral treatment, fexinidazole, for sleeping sickness. As a result, the number of cases has been dramatically reduced by more than 97% since 2001 (see figure attached). 

Now, we are working with our partners to bring a new single-dose oral treatment to patients and accelerate elimination of the disease.

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