Swiss Government firmly commits to fighting Neglected Diseases

[Geneva, Switzerland – April 28, 2011]
The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) recently granted the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) a sum of four million Swiss Francs to be disbursed over three years. This grant reaffirms SDC’s increasing role as a major supporter of development and implementation of new treatments to fight neglected diseases, which affect millions in the poorest regions of the world.

This important multiyear grant will help us to make available new medicines for millions of children and adults suffering from neglected tropical diseases, as well as to develop new and better adapted tools to support elimination programmes”, said Dr Bernard Pécoul, Executive Director of DNDi.

While phenomenal therapeutic advances have taken place over the past half-century, neglected diseases have not been the target of innovation. More than 1 billion people are still infected with at least one of the 17 diseases listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), and millions of people, mostly in low and middle-income countries, die every year.

In response to this critical global health problem, DNDi has, since its inception in 2003, directed its activities and resources to addressing diseases such as human African trypanosomiasis (or sleeping sickness) and leishmaniases – afflicting namely African populations – which are often fatal if left untreated. Many of the previously existing treatments for these diseases are at best costly or inadequate, and at worst, toxic. Major investment is urgently needed to ensure the development of a new generation of treatments – either combining existing therapies or developing new ones – as well as strategies for sustainable access in endemic countries. In order to achieve these objectives, DNDi works closely with its partners in disease-endemic countries, with the aim of developing and strengthening local capacities.

In fulfillment of DNDi’s objectives, this SDC grant represents a vital contribution to the development and implementation of three to four new treatments against NTDs, in addition to the four treatments already delivered by DNDi, by 2014.

SDC Director Martin Dahinden, reaffirming SDC support to DNDi, states: “SDC’s overall goal in health cooperation is to improve the health of the poor and vulnerable populations. To that end, we support programmes that strengthen local health systems, fight communicable diseases and contribute to improve maternal and child health. In addition to well-known communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, neglected tropical diseases affect in particular the world’s poorest people. SDC believes that DNDi’s contribution to the fight against NTDs complements its own interventions both at the bilateral and multilateral levels to reach MDG 6, the fight against communicable diseases, with a particular focus on diseases of poverty.

For more information please contact

Violaine Dallenbach
Press & Communications Manager, DNDi
vdallenbach@dndi.org
Tel: +41 22 906 92 47 / +41 79 424 14 74

 

About DNDi
Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) is an independent, not-for-profit drug development initiative established in 2003 by five publicly-funded research organizations – Malaysian Ministry of Health, Kenya Medical Research Institute, Indian Council of Medical Research, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation Brazil, and the Institut Pasteur – as well as an international humanitarian organization, Médecins Sans Frontières. The UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO’s Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) is a permanent observer. With a robust portfolio, DNDi aims to develop new, improved, and field-relevant drugs for neglected diseases, including malaria,   leishmaniases, human African trypanosomiasis, and Chagas disease, which afflict the very poor in developing countries. Since 2007, DNDi has delivered four products, fixed-dose anti-malarials (ASAQ and ASMQ), the combination treatment NECT (nifurtimox-eflornithine combination therapy) for the advanced stage of sleeping sickness, and a combination treatment against visceral leishmaniasis in Africa.

In order to achieve its objectives of delivering six to eight new treatments and building a robust pipeline by 2014, DNDi requires an additional EUR 80 million in funding from public and private donors. To date, DNDi has secured EUR 150 million from donors such as Médecins Sans Frontières, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United States of America (NIH/NIAID).

DNDi also raises awareness about the need for greater R&D for neglected diseases and strengthens existing research capacity in disease-endemic countries. For further information, please consult www.dndi.org