Algunas páginas están disponibles en Español.
Sleeping Sickness: The Long Road
John Stanmeyer in South Sudan
For centuries, sleeping sickness, or Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT), caused havoc in isolated reaches of Africa, preying on people with no access to medical care or those unaware of the biological dangers they faced when wading into a foreign land.
Sleeping sickness is endemic in 36 African countries and around 60 million people are at risk of being infected. Spread by the bite of a tsetse fly, the disease was signaled by the onset of fever, headaches, and joint pain, followed by disorientation and profound fatigue that makes it difficult to stay awake—hence the name sleeping sickness.
Sustained efforts to fight the disease have been largely successful, but there remain “hot spots” and “blind spots” in Central and West Africa, particularly in areas where conflict reigns but medical coverage and disease surveillance are weak. (Seventeen sub-Saharan Africa countries reported cases in 2009, for instance, and the Democratic Republic of Congo alone recorded three-quarters of all known cases.)
Between 1986 and 2010, MSF teams in several countries screened nearly 3 million people and treated more than 51,000 for the disease. At present, MSF has sleeping sickness programs in several other African countries as well. Collectively, this experience has made clear the need not only for ongoing vigilance, but also for new and easier diagnostic tests and shorter, more adaptable treatment regimens for patients.
VII Photo’s John Stanmeyer joined one of MSF’s mobile HAT teams, which was designed to augment fixed-site screening and treatment activities in Central Africa, allowing him a firsthand look at the modern-day effort to battle this age-old scourge.
Read more about sleeping sickness and MSF's work with, and advocacy for, sleeping sickness patients.
Behind the scenes with John Stanmeyer
John Stanmeyer, born in Illinois, is a founding member of VII photo agency.
Living in the Far East for over twelve years, Stanmeyer has witnessed throughout that time nearly every major historical event in Asia, photographing the rapid changes taking place throughout the entire region. Working globally, he has focused on the plight of refugees from the Ugandan civil war, spent months chronicling the effects of the 2004 Tsunami and documented the mental healthcare crises in Asia. Prior to moving to Hong Kong in 1996, Stanmeyer covered the conflict in South Sudan, Eastern European social change after the fall of Communism, as well as numerous visits to Haiti to record the endless social tragedies plaguing the island nation. For over eight years he has documented the spread of HIV/AIDS through every country in Asia. Stanmeyer’s focus is on social injustices, eradication of global poverty, human rights and raising awareness for the sustaining vanishing cultures.
Working regularly for National Geographic Magazine, on contract with Time Magazine for over ten years and photographing for numerous other global publications, Stanmeyer has been the recipient of numerous honors including the prestigious Robert Capa award, named Magazine Photographer of the Year, awarded numerous World Press, Picture of the Year and NPPA awards and, in 2008, received the National Magazine Award for this in-depth essay on the global Malaria epidemic.
Stanmeyer’s latest book, Island of the Spirits, a journalistic/anthropologic look at Balinese culture documented over the five years he lived on the island, was published in November 2010.
He has recently moved back to the United States and lives with this wife, Anastasia, and their three children on a farm in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts.