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New treatment for kala azar, the most deadly parasitic disease after malaria
Date:9/23/2011

to visceral leishmaniasis (VL), a parasitic disease endemic in around 70 countries worldwide. South Sudan has the second highest number of cases after India. The disease is spread through the bite of a sandfly and is fatal without treatment. Approximately half a million people are infected with the disease and 50-60,000 die every year as a result of the infection. Patients suffer from irregular bouts of fever, substantial weight loss, swelling of the spleen and liver, and anaemia.

"I have spent fifty years treating kala azar patients and researching this killer parasite and I know first-hand how desperately these poor patients and overburdened health workers need shorter, cheaper, and easier-to-use treatment," said Professor Ahmed Mohamed El Hassan, Emeritus Professor, Institute of Endemic Diseases University of Khartoum, Sudan. "Ideally for patients in such conditions, we need an oral treatment, such as those being tested or completely new drugs, but we are a long way from there and we need to make the most of this existing better treatment and find the funds to roll it out," he concluded.

In March 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Committee on the Control of Leishmaniases recommended SSG&PM as first-line treatment for VL in East Africa. It is already being used to treat patients in the countries such as Sudan and South Sudan. Other affected countries are in the process of registering PM to combine it with the already registered SSG to get the treatment to patients.

"After 20 years, WHO has updated the guidelines for the control of leishmaniasis. This shows that there is greater collaboration and progress. Now countries need support to translate this into lives saved on the ground," said Dr. Merc Herrero, Disease Prevention and Control, Leishmaniasis National Control Programme, WHO Ethiopia.

The development of SSG&PM is the result of a collaborative partnership over a period of six years between DNDi, LEAP, and
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Contact: Violaine Daellenbach
vdallenbach@dndi.org
41-794-241-474
Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative
Source:Eurekalert

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