Human African trypanosomiasis

Control and Surveillance

© Maciej Dakowicz

WHO's ultimate objective is the elimination of human African trypanosomiasis as a public health problem and the establishment of a sustained surveillance system in all disease-endemic countries.

To achieve this, the HAT control and surveillance programme focuses on:

  • Provide wider accessibility of people at risk to diagnosis and treatment. WHO assists 'National Sleeping Sickness Programmes' (NSSCPs) to implement control activities and capacity building through in-service training and thematic workshops at national, regional and international level. Reagents and equipment for screening and diagnosis and drugs for treatment are also provided.
  • Strengthened control and surveillance. This is achieved through both, mobile teams who travel through endemic areas to carry out active case-finding surveys and by the maintenance of network for passive surveillance. Good reporting is imperative to allow a follow-up of the epidemiological evolution of the disease at continental level.
  • Guidelines and policies. These are jointly elaborated with health services of endemic countries and delivered to national implementing bodies. The main objective is to harmonize control strategies and make optimal use of available tools.

"No universal methodology"

There is no universal methodology to control human African trypanosomiasis. Control and surveillance of the disease includes active and passive case finding, diagnosis, treatment, patient follow-up, vector control and control of animal reservoir.


In the 1930s, colonial administrations conscious of the huge negative impact the disease had on the development of its territories, established large programmes to combat the spread and reduce the prevalence of sleeping sickness.

WHO’s collaborating network

WHO has created strong links with various international organizations, research institutions, development agencies, NGOs and private firms.

Human African trypanosomiasis in the news

16 April 2016 | Geneva
Lowest caseload recorded as the world prepares to defeat sleeping sickness.
The World Health Organization targets the elimination of this commonest form of the disease as a 'public health problem' by 2020.

30 July 2015 | Geneva
Report of the first WHO stakeholders meeting on rhodesiense human African trypanosomiasis Geneva, 20–22 October 2014
Ref: ISBN 978 92 4 150865 0

01 June 2015 | Geneva
WHO network for HAT elimination
Human African trypanosomiasis: update of the methodological framework for clinical trials
Ref: ISBN 978 92 4 150883 4

19 May 2015 | Geneva
Cases of sleeping sickness drop to lowest level in 75 years

Archives news