Neglected tropical diseases

WHO renews agreement with Sanofi-aventis

Scale up of interventions for the control of human African trypanosomiasis

08 March 2011 | Geneva -- The World Health Organization (WHO) today renewed its agreement with the pharmaceutical company Sanofi-aventis extending to 2016 its decade-long partnership to fight some of the most neglected tropical diseases.

The partnership, which started in 2001, aims at controlling and treating human African trypanosomiasis, most commonly known as sleeping sickness and some other difficult-to-treat diseases, such as Buruli ulcer, Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, and yaws.

Since 2001, approximately 160 000 people have been treated for sleeping sickness in Africa. For the first time in 2009, the number of new sleeping sickness reported to WHO fell below 10 000 to 9 878 cases - its lowest level in almost 60 years.

“This third five-year commitment by Sanofi-aventis comes at a time when prospects for controlling these difficult and dreaded diseases have never looked brighter”...“In 2009, reported cases of sleeping sickness fell below the 10,000 figure. For the first time, the stage is set for the elimination of sleeping sickness - a prospect that was unthinkable a decade ago”.

WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan

“By pursuing this successful partnership between WHO and Sanofi-aventis, we are raising the chances of eliminating sleeping sickness on the African continent and are continuing to fight some of the most neglected tropical diseases,”

Christopher A. Viehbacher CEO Sanofi-aventis

The agreement was signed by WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan and Mr Christopher A. Viehbacher, CEO sanofi-aventis, at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

The new agreement provides for a total contribution of US$ 25 million over 5 years from 2011 to 2016, which includes:

  • (a) free supply and distribution of medicines such as pentamidine, melarsoprol and eflornithine in sufficient quantities to treat all patients with sleeping sickness.
  • (b) a financial contribution of US$19 million over 5 years to support control programmes for sleeping sickness, leishmananiasis, Chagas disease, Buruli ulcer and yaws.

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