[Nairobi, 23 September 2011] East Africa is fighting the worst kala azar outbreak in a decade. Collaboration across the region through the Leishmaniasis East Africa Platform (LEAP) has resulted in the development of a new combination therapy (SSG&PM) which is cheaper and nearly halves the length of treatment from a 30 day course of injections to 17 days. East African endemic countries are taking the necessary regulatory measures to use it in their programmes, but experts warn that without international funding or interest in supporting governments in the roll out, too few patients will benefit.
"The poorest of the poor, in the most remote villages are the ones who are wasting away from kala azar and who could benefit the most from a shorter more affordable treatment" said Dr. Monique Wasunna, Assistant Director, KEMRI, and Head, DNDi Africa. "Neglected diseases and patients mean that even when there are new treatments and hope, they are too far from the headlines and donor priorities to get support to governments. This is why we are calling for urgent action."
This week in Nairobi, over 100 clinical researchers and regional experts from Ministries of Health and drug regulatory authorities are meeting for the bi-annual LEAP Leishmaniasis East Africa Platform to see what is and is not working in the field and to find better ways to control the disease.
After 70 years of little improvement or change in the treatment of kala azar in Africa, LEAP and its partners have developed a new treatment: Sodium Stibogluconate & Paromomycin (SSG&PM) combination treatment. This is cheaper and nearly halves the length of treatment from the current 30 day course of injections to 17 days. It also cures the patient. Combination therapies help fight resistance to treatment. Countries around the region are in the process of registration and are ready to use the treatment, but need funding to control the disease.
Kala azar is another name given
|Contact: Violaine Daellenbach|
Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative