I am happy to report that Jean from Dilingala (in Chad) is getting better. You will recall he presented to our HAT camp on August 12 in a semi-comatose delirium. Today is the fifth day he is under intravenous eflornithine treatment for sleeping sickness. You'll also probably recall sleeping
sickness is more formally called HAT (Human African Trypanosomiasis). Around here in the project where the working language is French, we just call it "trypano" for short.
Maybe all these words for the same nasty disease is confusing you, so let me summarize from the most formal to the most informal terminology.
Trypanosoma brucei gambiense = Human African Trypanosomiasis = HAT = Sleeping sickness = trypano.
Back to Jean in more detail. Each day he gets a little better. Today he is able to eat some Plumpy-Nut, though he vomits from time to time – a side effect I attribute to the eflornithine. Unfortunately, the medication we use to treat his vomiting also sedates him, which makes it a harder to follow his overall neurological status. It's always a balance between the potential good a medication can provide in comparison to the potential harm it can cause.
Jean's older brother who affectionately holds him a lot says he talks to him, but we could not coax any words out of him on today's Sunday rounds. Jean also still cannot walk very much though he can now follow simple commands like eye closing and shaking hands. The normal smile and giggle of a 7-year-old boy is what we're waiting for. Maybe soon.
The plan here in the coming week will be our first mobile activity to foremost advance our sleeping sickness project. We will take two MSF Land Cruisers and a small team to one of the nearby villages. There our goals will be fourfold.
First, we will interview the local population on their medical and humanitarian concerns. Second, we will hope to screen all children between 1 to 5 years for severe acute malnutrition. Third, we will do a simple screening blood test for sleeping sickness from the back of the Land Cruisers for about 60-80 villagers and bring back to our HAT camp anyone obviously sick. Fourth we'll search for a couple of previously diagnosed typano patients who are on our waiting list for treatment.
OK – time to work on monthly statistics and report writing. Sunday is the best day for this sort of thing as there are less interuptions and I can readily get help from our logistician who is also a Microsoft Excel guru.
Warm wishes from the Central African Republic,