Yerko grew up in Bolivia in the small community of El Forestal in the east of the country. As a child, he and his family lived in a house with walls made of adobe bricks and a roof of palm leaves. Hidden inside the cracks and crevices in the walls and roof were kissing bugs. Yerko wanted to become a pharmacist to help people in need, but became a victim of Chagas disease.
“It just went completely white.” This is the how fisherman Akoyo Osumaka describes going blind in 2011, in the remote village of Babagulu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It was a slow, creeping blindness that began a year earlier. It robbed him of his livelihood and threw his family life into disarray.
Dr Robert Don, Discovery and Pre-Clinical Director at DNDi (2005-2017), reflects on challenges and achievements in drug discovery at DNDi over the last 12 years.
The journey to the sleeping sickness trial site in Isangi from the DNDi office in Kinshasa begins in the domestic airport of DRC’s capital city and ends more than a day later halfway across the country in a barge crossing the Congo river. In between: hours spent navigating potholed dirt roads, collapsed bridges, checkpoints, and multiple river crossings. Once at Isangi, canoes must be used to reach many of the patients as there are no roads.
Yet for DNDi’s clinical team in DRC, Isangi is one of the easier-to-reach sites. The DRC and the Central African Republic (CAR) both pose daunting challenges that must be overcome to develop better treatments for patients suffering from sleeping sickness.
Thirty-five year old Tsadik is a visceral leishmaniasis (VL) patient who is also infected with HIV. He is gaunt, weak and tired, with sunken eyes. Each breath he takes is laboured. Tsadik lives in Abdurafi, a region of northwest Ethiopia that is characterized with high VL-HIV co-infection because VL is endemic….
Sani sits in the doorway of her one-room house with her baby girl Mel in her arms. A pink sunset illuminates the Durban township of KwaMashu that unfolds below her clifftop house. She looks lovingly at Mel, then takes out a syringe and struggles to give the two-year-old,a medicine that is over 40% alcohol.
Every Monday morning at a clinic on the dusty outskirts of the Sudanese capital Khartoum, sufferers of one of the world’s most neglected disease flock to the only place in the world that can offer them specialized care and treatment. Patients stream through the gates limping, on crutches, pushed by worried relatives on rusty wheelchairs or carried. Most have bandaged legs, many are amputees.
Dr SS Tan and hepatitis C patients Peace James, Rosalyn, and Rashid Bin Hashim speak out about the difficulty to access affordable direct-acting antivirals.
Duámaco Escribano is infected with Chagas disease, a parasite borne disease. In the indigenous community to which he belongs, the Koguis – one of the four ethnic groups living in the Sierra Nevada, on the north coast of Colombia – life is not measured in years: it starts with birth and ends with death, however long it may be…
Dr Elsemani Widaa is a surgeon from the Mycetoma Research Centre, Sudan,
which is the country’s treatment reference centre for patients’ suffering from the
disease. He has worked at the Centre for over two years, and even in this short
period of time, he has seen and treated hundreds of patients. The challenges
that doctors face in treating mycetoma are many, the most serious of which problem
is the fact that the only available drug for treating the fungal form of the disease
(eumycetoma) is toxic and ultimately ineffective, but currently, it is all there is.
For Juan Bautista Corzo Veloza, a 53 year old, father of three, life is
not the same since that day in January 2013 when a stroke left him
“dead for three days,” he says. He was changing a tire while performing
his duty as a driver, a job to which he had dedicated himself after
retiring from the National Police, when he began to feel a sharp
pain in his chest along with a slow loss of consciousness.
Thursday, 23 August 2012, a sunny and very hot afternoon in West Pokot, Kenya: Dust devils circle into the air as pickup trucks packed with passengers drop off numbers of people, who all settle under a large tree in the village. This is where the community gathers for elders’ meetings. It is here that Nancy Chemluo recounts how kala azar affected two of her sons, and how she and her community changed their approach to seeking treatment.
and Rosario, ArgentinaThe world’s number one soccer player, Lionel Messi, who plays for FC Barcelona and the Argentina national team, having seen a documentary by Ricardo Preve on Al Jazeera, ‘Chagas, A Silent Killer’, speaks out about Chagas disease. The soccer star calls for teamwork in the field of Chagas disease to treat patients and find altogether new treatments.
It’s early on the morning of Thursday, 23 August 2012. We are at the Chemolingot Sub-district Hospital, where SSG&PM treatment is being administered to patients suffering from kala-azar (visceral leishmaniasis). In one of the wards, sitting on a hospital bed, is Lemarus Tebakwani Lukeno, a 23-year-old kala-azar patient, who has been undergoing treatment for five days.