On the Trail of Sleeping Sickness

Medics travel to DR Congo in an attempt to eliminate one of the world’s most neglected tropical diseases.

Sleeping sickness is a disease affecting the body’s central nervous system, which causes disrupted sleep patterns, brain damage and eventually death.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared sleeping sickness, also known as Human African Trypanosomiasis, a neglected tropical disease that it wants to see eliminated by 2020.

But for a disease that is difficult to diagnose, that has in practice had only one new treatment developed in 50 years, and which affects 30,000 people in the remotest parts of Africa, that is easier said than done.

In this special episode of The Cure, emergency medic Dr Javid Abdelmoneim travels deep into the Democratic Republic of Congo to see how clinicians from the international medical organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) are screening and treating patients in a bid to make elimination of the disease a reality.