A new drug for the neglected disease sleeping sickness is currently in clinical trials; if the trials are conclusive, Fexinidazole could be registered within two years and sleeping sickness could be eradicated around 2020. This drug would be a vast improvement over current treatment as it's much simpler to administer and thus accessible to many more people. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and other partner organizations established Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) in 2003 to develop new treatments for neglected diseases, including sleeping sickness.
The February 2013 Month In Focus features brief reports on the following Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) activities: aid imbalances in Syria; assistance for Syrian refugees in Lebanon; tending to victims of the conflict in Mali; measles epidemic in northeastern regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo; battling sleeping sickness in South Sudan; and improving access to healthcare in Afghanistan.
Sleeping sickness has been a major health problem in South Sudan for the last century. Transmitted by the tse tse fly, it can be fatal if left untreated. Over a ten-week period, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) mobile teams based in Kajo Keji traveled to remote villages where patients have little access to medical care, screening over 37,000 people for the disease and providing treatment to those in need.
Sleeping sickness is a major health problem in sub-Saharan Africa. With existing medicines either cumbersome to administer or a cause of intense side effects, a new and cheaper therapy, NECT, holds great promise of benefitting thousands of vulnerable patients.