From emergency intervention to sustainable network

In Uganda, thousands of people have been affected by sleeping sickness, a terrible parasitic disease carried by tsetse flies. It takes over victims until they have no energy, appear constantly sleepy and eventually die. The devastating effects of sleeping sickness have posed a major threat to Africa over the years, and in particular Northern Uganda, where two forms of the illness were threatening to converge in 2006. The World Health Organization warned back then that the impact of mixed infections from tsetse flies would make sleeping sickness in humans almost impossible to treat.

That is when the SOS partners decided to act. Following a request for help from the Ugandan government, they created a public and private partnership made up of COCTU, IKARE, CEVA, the Makerere University and the University of Edinburgh.  In a collaborative effort involving product, people and know-how, they launched a mass treatment exercise to rid cattle of the disease and thereby protect the human population.  

SOS achieved its initial goals. The convergence threat was averted, the parasite infection in cattle dropped 72% and health workers reported far fewer cases of sleeping sickness. But the project highlighted the need for a long-term solution  to keep cattle healthy and engage local communities so they could protect themselves in a sustainable way.

This film shows how the SOS partners and the Ugandan government worked tirelessly to help local communities and find a solution to this public health threat. With the support of the SOS partners, vet students have established 3 V vet practices, offering veterinary service and products. Their on-the-ground experience illustrates both the successes of the campaign and the challenges faced.

Today, the original goals of the SOS project have been achieved and the partners have  managed to build a unique and sustainable platform for delivering services to farmers and controlling an infectious disease in humans. The campaign must now be extended with committed partners, governments and global health partners collaborating with each other and engaging communities to protect themselves in a sustainable way.

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