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Summary of: Tropical Diseases Can Make People Very Sick

Summarized from Vol. 381 Jan. 5, 2013/ John Morris reports/WHO Meeting led by Dr. Anne Moore, KFWH Advisor

New WHO Plan Targets the Demise of Sleeping Sickness

Tropical diseases can make people very sick and sometimes kill the people who become infected. At the World Health Organization (WHO) at the United Nations, doctors and scientists are working hard to do something about this. They are figuring out how to end tropical diseases to save lives.

One of the diseases they studied at their meeting in December 2012, is “sleeping sickness.” Most people who get sleeping sickness live in west and central Africa, in countries such as The Democratic Republic of The Congo. African animals can also become infected.  Sleeping sickness can damage the nervous system and harm people’s hearts.

How does someone get this disease? Sleeping sickness comes from a tse tse fly bite. The tse tse fly has a parasite -an organism that lives inside the fly- that is dangerous to humans.

When someone is bitten, the parasite from the fly goes into that person’s bloodstream and makes them very ill.

If a tse tse fly bites a person who has been treated with medication, that fly cannot infect the next person it bites. Then eventually, sleeping sickness cannot be transmitted.

Anne Moore, the leader of the WHO meeting says,  “The plan to eliminate ( to stop transmitting) sleeping sickness is looking very good.”

After more than a hundred years, the effort to eliminate sleeping sickness is happening.

Here are some reasons that millions of people will now be living after being bitten by a tse tse fly:

  • People around the world have asked drug companies to make medicines to stop sleeping sickness.
  • Caring people donated money so poor people can pay for medicine that cures sleeping sickness.
  • Hospitals were built in rural areas so people could get treatment for sleeping sickness and recover with help from doctors and nurses.
  • Health workers go into remote areas, into small hidden villages, to find people who are sick and get them help. They can do this because there are less wars and soldiers to stop them

The workers from WHO have this plan to continue to eliminate sleeping sickness:

  • Every person in the village will have their blood tested to see if they have sleeping sickness.
  • If they have the disease, they will start the medicine right away.
  • A doctor will examine an infected person every two years.
  • Drug companies will continue to find new medicines to cure

When people from around the world come together to solve a problem to help cure diseases, it can happen.