SOS project: from acute intervention to sustainable network – see the movie!
Trying to summarise all achievements and personal journeys since the SOS Partnership was launched in 2006 is no simple feat. With this movie we make an attempt however to tell the story which began with an emergency intervention. While this mass-treatment of cattle was a success in itself, it also pointed at gaps and challenges in the delivery of veterinary services in rural areas of Uganda. This in turn led to the establishment of private veterinary practices and self-employed spray persons - together empowering and enabling farmers to “do it for themselves”. So how did it all begin?
In Uganda, thousands of people have been affected by sleeping
sickness, a terrible parasitic disease carried by tsetse flies. It
takes over victims until they have no energy, appear constantly
sleepy and eventually die. The devastating effects of
sleeping sickness have posed a major threat to Africa over the
years, and in particular Northern Uganda, where two forms of the
illness were threatening to converge in 2006. The World Health
Organization warned back then that the impact of mixed infections
from tsetse flies would make sleeping sickness in humans almost
impossible to treat.
That is when the SOS partners decided to act. Following a
request for help from the Ugandan government, they created a public
and private partnership made up of COCTU, IKARE, CEVA, the Makerere
University and the University of Edinburgh. In a
collaborative effort involving product, people and know-how, they
launched a mass treatment exercise to rid cattle of the disease and
thereby protect the human population.
SOS achieved its initial goals. The convergence threat was
averted, the parasite infection in cattle dropped 72% and health
workers reported far fewer cases of sleeping sickness. But the
project highlighted the need for a long-term solution to keep
cattle healthy and engage local communities so they could protect
themselves in a sustainable way.
This film shows how the SOS partners and the Ugandan government
worked tirelessly to help local communities and find a solution to
this public health threat. With the support of the SOS partners,
vet students have established 3 V vet practices, offering
veterinary service and products. Their on-the-ground experience
illustrates both the successes of the campaign and the challenges
Today, the original goals of the SOS project have been achieved
and the partners have managed to build a unique and
sustainable platform for delivering services to farmers and
controlling an infectious disease in humans. The campaign must now
be extended with committed partners, governments and global health
partners collaborating with each other and engaging communities to
protect themselves in a sustainable way.