FINDing an alternative
Angèle Ngo-On
DNDi liaison, Congo - Kinshasa
Muaba is a 51-year old Congolese farmer. Around 3 months ago he realised he couldn’t tend to his farm without completely exhausting himself. Even the smallest effort was tiring him out. He was always sleepy and noticed a lack of sexual desire. Muaba is the primary earner in his family – and it was not long before his symptoms began to cause him a great deal of anxiety. Who would take care of his wife and 8 children? Muaba and his wife have 8 surviving children; 3 had died of measles, 2 of kwashiorkor, 1 of anaemic malaria.

At the end of August, he climbed onto a bus accompanied by his wife and went to the Dipumba hospital 40 kms away in Mbuji Mayi. Doctors suspected that he was suffering from sleeping sickness. His blood was taken and tested first with the Card Agglutination Test for Trypanosomiasis (CATT)  and then examined under the microscope to confirm the presence of parasites in his blood. The doctor then said that he needed to have a lumbar puncture to see if the parasites had reached his brain. That was a very painful experience for Muaba, but the diagnostic was essential, as it confirmed that he had advanced stage sleeping sickness. Muaba received eflornithine, a 14 day long treatment with 4 intravenous infusions per day to cure his disease in Dipumba Hospital.

“I wish there could be a simpler, less painful diagnostic test, and a painless, fast, and free cure for this disease,” he says.
Published by Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative - 1 Place St Gervais 1201 Geneva Switzerland - Photo credits: DNDi
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