Musenge Village, Masi Manimba
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Angèle is in her early twenties. She is married and has three children. She and her husband work in the field as subsistance farmers to gather food for their family. In July this year, the sleeping sickness mobile unit paid an important visit to her village to screen the population for the disease. Angèle was diagnosed with late stage sleeping sickness.
Because her husband was ill with measles, Angèle came to the hospital accompanied by her mother to seek treatment. Despite feeling ill, she walked for two days, 60 kilometres, to reach the hospital. It was there that she found out that she was pregnant with her fourth child, and in order to receive treatment with Nifurtimox-Eflornithine Combination Therapy (NECT), she was advised to return for treatment in her second trimester, two months later. ‘I had terrible headaches and had the chills all night long, every night, for 6 months. When the mobile team came to my village I finally found out what was wrong. In my village there are many cases of sleeping sickness. My grandmother had it, my father as well. Both were treated and cured’, she recounted. When Angèle reached her fourth month of pregnancy, she once again prepared for her two day journey by foot to reach Masi Manimba Reference Hospital. She received treatment with NECT and quickly began to feel better. ‘I am near the end of my treatment, and I feel a huge difference. My headaches are almost gone and I no longer have the chills all night’, she said. Angèle will soon return to her family, in a village that fortunately is covered by a mobile unit that conducts active screening for sleeping sickness. Patients such as Angèle, far from reference hospitals, are typically those that may not seek treatment without a clear diagnosis in their village.