Body set up to seek drugs for the poor

Dr Yves Champey, the DNDi interim director, said in a statement: "Patients in developing countries are being forced to use drugs with failing efficacy and significant side-effects... They deserve a better deal and our organisation will, therefore, mobilise scientific innovations to create new medicines for the world's most neglected patients..."

A research organisation was yesterday set up to manufacture drugs for diseases which mainly affect poor people.

Research institutes from Kenya, India, France, Brazil and Malaysia joined the World Health Organisation and Doctors Without Borders to launch the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) in Geneva.

According to experts, a mere 10 per cent of the world's health research efforts go into diseases that account for 90 per cent of the global disease burden.

The organisation plans to spend about $250 million in the next 12 years to develop between six and seven drugs to combat sleeping sickness, leishmaniasis and Chagas disease - neglected killer diseases that threaten 350 million people every year.

Dr Yves Champey, the DNDi interim director, said in a statement: "Patients in developing countries are being forced to use drugs with failing efficacy and significant side-effects...

"They deserve a better deal and our organisation will, therefore, mobilise scientific innovations to create new medicines for the world's most neglected patients..."

In May, the Kenya Medical Research Institute was unanimously selected to be the host African DNDi institution and founding partner during the first African Collaboration conference held in Nairobi.

Kemri director Davy Koech and his centre for clinical research counterpart, Dr Monique Wasunna, represented Kenya and Africa during the launch.

In a keynote address, Dr Koech observed: "A capacity analysis shows that although most countries have manufacturing capacity, there is little research and development capacity.

"Almost 17 countries import 100 per cent of the drugs they consume and only Algeria, Egypt and South Africa produce raw material and its formulation,".

DNDi will be the first not-for-profit organisation to focus on the world's most neglected diseases.