Professor John Chisi of the University of Malawi’s College of Medicine says Malawi is on course in researching for sleeping sickness which is difficult to diagnose.
Chisi, who was among presidential aspirants in the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections, said this on Friday in Blantyre during a briefing ahead of his inaugural lecture on the subject.
He added that his team is currently working on finding new tools of diagnosis such as using microscope and molecular technique in dealing with the disease which mostly affects poor people, thereby posing a socio-economic challenge in rural areas.
Said Chisi: “The World Health Organisation defines sleeping sickness as a tropical neglected disease. In other words, the amount of people infected is not many and the people who get infected are usually poor people from rural areas.
“In our country, for example, sleeping sickness is mainly found in three districts of Nkhotakota, Kasungu and Rumphi. Nkhotakota registers three to four cases per year; Kasungu registers one to two cases with Rumphi topping the list with 20 to 30 cases a year because of Vwaza Marsh Game Reserve.
“But when you look at those numbers you may think that is not a problem, but the problem is big because people do not know when they get this disease and diagnosis is very difficult and a lot of people get it unnoticed,” said Chisi.
He described the disease as nasty as it presents itself in many forms, including malaria, madness with people ending up in a mental hospital, HIV, sleepless nights and even miscarriages in women and diagnosis can be made only when you get sick and consult a doctor outlining their symptoms.
Chisi said the current research he is conducting on the disease will help in its management through vaccines and the development of new tools of diagnosis.
Chisi is expected to make his inaugural lecture on June 24 2016 at CoM titled Using New Technologies to Control Diseases Transmitted from Animals to Humans: The Case Study of Sleeping Sickness.