Human African trypanosomiasis in a rural community, Democratic Republic of Congo

Emerg Infect Dis. 2007 Feb;13(2):248-54. doi: 10.3201/eid1302.060075.


According to the World Health Organization, human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) (sleeping sickness) caused the loss of approximately 1.5 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) in 2002. We describe the effect of HAT during 2000-2002 in Buma, a rural community near Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We used retrospective questionnaire surveys to estimate HAT-related household costs and DALYs. The HAT outbreak in Buma involved 57 patients and affected 47 (21%) households. The cost to each household was equivalent to 5 months' income for that household. The total number of HAT-related DALYs was 2,145, and interventions to control HAT averted 1,408 DALYs. The cost per DALY averted was US $17. Because HAT has a serious economic effect on households and control interventions are cost-effective, considering only global burden of disease rankings for resource allocation could lead to misguided priority setting if applied without caution in HAT-affected countries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antiprotozoal Agents / economics
  • Antiprotozoal Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cost of Illness
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rural Population
  • Trypanosomiasis, African / economics
  • Trypanosomiasis, African / epidemiology*


  • Antiprotozoal Agents