Delegates from 35 countries call for collaboration on better data, diagnostic tests and treatments for highly neglected disease
The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) has joined partners from 35 countries attending the Sixth International Conference on Mycetoma in Khartoum, Sudan to endorse a ‘Call for Action’ to accelerate global efforts to address the plight of mycetoma patients. The Call for Action urges the global health community to work together with health ministries, multilateral agencies, research institutions, pharmaceutical companies, and other partners to address the devastating consequences of this highly neglected disease.
Mycetoma is a slow-growing bacterial or fungal infection, most often of the foot, that can spread to other parts of the body and cause severe disability. It usually affects poor people in rural areas with limited access to health care. While Sudan has some of the highest recorded incidence, relatively high numbers are also seen in other countries that are part of the so-called ‘mycetoma belt’, including the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Chad, Ethiopia, India, Mauritania, Mexico, Senegal, Somalia, and Yemen.
Until recently there was almost no attention to this debilitating disease, for which there are limited prevalence and incidence data. Mycetoma was added to the World Health Organization’s list of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in 2016. Diagnosis of the disease uses invasive methods that are not adapted to rural health facilities, and available treatment for the fungal form of mycetoma is only 25-35% effective. When diagnosed in its late stages, mycetoma can lead to amputation and permanent disability.
The Call for Action invites member states of the World Health Organization and other partners to adopt collaborative approaches in stepping up the fight against mycetoma, including by broadening access to existing diagnostics and medicines, and investing in research for better treatments and improved diagnostic tests that can be easily used in rural areas and in the primary health-care system.
“DNDi welcomes this Call for Action, signed here in Khartoum by delegates from 35 countries. By increasing awareness, collaboration, and support for mycetoma, collectively we can accelerate global efforts to develop new diagnostic tools and more effective treatments for this extremely neglected disease,” said Dr Nathalie Strub-Wourgaft, Director of Neglected Tropical Diseases, DNDi. “We look forward to the integration of this Call into the upcoming WHO NTD Roadmap 2021 – 2022.”
Read the Mycetoma Khartoum Call for Action