The ongoing partnership, which started in 2001 with a focus on sleeping sickness, is dedicated to disease management. This includes screening of populations, disease awareness campaign, capacity building, and drug donations across NTDs.
NTDs refer to a group of parasitic, bacterial, fungal and viral diseases that affect or threaten over one billion people worldwide. They affect people living in remote rural areas where poverty is rampant and health conditions are poor, and local capacities to monitor, diagnose and treat these diseases are missing.
Sleeping sickness is caused by parasites transmitted by certain species of tsetse fly and is endemic in 36 sub-Saharan African countries. People living in rural areas, who depend on agriculture, fishing, animal husbandry or hunting, are most exposed to these flies. The disease is fatal without treatment.
Over the last 20 years, thanks to $100m in financial support for the screening and control of patients as well as drug donations, the partnership has screened more than 40 million people and treated more than 210,000 patients.
The number of cases of this disease has decreased by 97%, and the WHO wants to see sleeping sickness eliminated by 2030. Since 2006, the WHO/Sanofi partnership has been extended to cover three additional diseases: leishmaniasis, Chagas disease and Buruli ulcer.
The development of the first oral drug, fexinidazole, in partnership with DNDi, has simplified the treatment of patients in remote areas. A recent roll-out of the drug took place in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The ongoing development of acoziborole, once approved, will represent a breakthrough innovation to reach a sustainable elimination of this disease, says Sanofi.
Sanofi and the WHO also work together on fighting other public health issues, such as polio, yellow fever or other infectious diseases (such as dengue, malaria and tuberculosis).