Tsetse flies also referred to as “poverty insects” are a common denominator in Africa’s poorest countries. Tsetse flies spread a zoonotic disease called trypanosomiasis, commonly referred to as sleeping sickness and nagana in man and animals respectively. It is a dilapidating and fatal disease if not treated timely and appropriately. Game parks and reserves offer favorable habitats for tsetse flies while the wild animals are natural reservoirs of the disease, this subsequently impacts negatively on the tourism sector. The negative impacts of the disease thus cuts across the public health, agriculture and tourism sectors.
Tsetse flies remain the greatest challenge to rural livelihoods as they rely on livestock as their main source of income. The continent has registered several trypanosomiasis epidemics which resulted in human and livestock deaths and subsequent massive population movements. Today sleeping sickness and nagana are endemic in 38 African countries, according to World Bank ranking the 25 poorest countries are tsetse fly infested.
It was based on this serious negative impact that the African heads made a declaration to free the continent from the constraints of tsetse flies during their 36th Assembly in 2000 in Lome Togo. This declaration culminated in the formation of the Pan-African Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Eradication Campaign (PATTEC) sheltered under the African Union (AU) headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The national governments offered to offer financial assistance in collaboration with African Development Bank with other donors like the Foundation of Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) supporting specific components of the project.
Six countries namely; Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Mali, Ghana and Burkina Faso were selected to implement the first phase of the programme. The other countries are at various preparatory stages.