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Oct 16, 2017

Anti-poverty marches will take place throughout Belgium on Tuesday - including two in Brussels -...

Oct 16, 2017

A rapid response team for handling accidents in Brussels' ageing road tunnels will now not be rea...

Oct 16, 2017

Monday's temperature in Brussels was the highest ever seen so late in the year, the Belgian Royal...

Oct 16, 2017

Police arrested about 50 of the migrants camping in Maximilian Park in the Brussels’ canal distri...

Belgium and Gates Foundation to ‘wipe out’ sleeping sickness

Apr 20, 2017

Federal minister of development co-operation Alexander De Croo and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have announced the ambition to eradicate sleeping sickness by 2025. The Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) in Antwerp will co-ordinate a programme.

De Croo and the American foundation announced their collaboration yesterday at a congress in Geneva focused on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD). Belgium will invest €25.3 million, said De Croo, which will be doubled by the Gates Foundation.

Sleeping sickness is an NTD, a tropical infection common among populations in developing regions of Africa, Asia and the Americas. Medically known as African trypanosomiasis, it is caused by a parasite spread by the tsetse fly. The disease is found mostly in the rural areas of east, west and central Africa.

If not treated, it attacks the central nervous system, leading to death. Currently, some 20,000 people worldwide are infected with the parasite that causes the disease, according to the World Health Organization.

About 85% of new cases are found in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the new programme will focus on this country. The ITM has many years of experience in dealing with sleeping sickness and working in Congo, the former Belgian colony.

In 2016, Belgium and the Gates Foundation also allocated €2.5 million each to battle sleeping sickness. “The sustainable effort of Belgium to eradicate sleeping sickness in Congo is one of the best examples of the progress we have made in dealing with NTDs,” said Bill Gates at the congress.

Photo, from left: WHO director-general Margaret Chan, Alexander De Croo and Bill Gates

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