Sleeping sickness threatens most provinces in Angola
Trypanosomiasis, commonly known as sleeping sickness, is threatening one-third of Angolans and creating social, economic and political turmoil in the mineral-rich provinces where it is concentrated, News24.com reported Wednesday.
The tsetse fly-borne illness is present in all but four of Angola's 18 provinces and endemic in the north, where oil and diamonds are concentrated, according to Ndinga Dieyi Dituvanga of the Institute for the Prevention of Trypanosomiasis. Last year 96 Angolans died from sleeping sickness, according to official records, while 3,115 new cases and 270,000 suspected cases were reported nationwide.
Dituvanga said the institute has "no idea what is happening in the east, where the most virulent form of the disease is believed to exist."
Dituvanga called the situation in Angola "alarming" and said the illness brought social and economic instability in its wake. An African Union report on the disease released last February identified it as an impediment to development across the continent, with more than 500,000 Africans suffering from the disease and as many as 80 percent of victims dying from it. The disease also strikes cattle, killing about 3 million each year.
Despite a lack of funds, the institute last year destroyed 1 million tsetse flies, according to Dituvanga (News24.com, Feb. 4).
More information about trypanosomiasis may be found by visiting the World Health Organization Web site. Search 'tryponosomiasis' or start with this fact sheet: WHO Fact Sheet: African trypanosomiasis or sleeping sickness.