Sleeping sickness or Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT) is endemic in 36 African countries, with around 60 million people are at risk of being infected. The DRC alone accounts for two-thirds of reported cases. HAT primarily occurs in the poorest, most rural areas in Africa, where difficulty of diagnosis, political instability, and lack of health surveillance make the fight against the disease a real challenge. Transmitted by the Tsetse fly, the HAT is fatal without treatment.
Until recently, existing treatments were toxic or difficult to administer. In 2009, Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) launched the first new treatment for HAT in 25 years. DNDi was established in 2003 at the initiative of Médecins Sans Frontières as an alternative model for the research and development of new drugs for neglected diseases. It is a non-profit drug R&D organization that is developing new treatments for malaria, visceral leishmaniasis, and Chagas disease, in addition to sleeping sickness.
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