Press release

Elimination of sleeping sickness moves a step closer to reality with US$ 7.5 million award to extend ongoing Trypa-NO! programme

  • Trypa-NO! extension will validate disease elimination in Uganda and Ivory Coast, drive cases to zero in Chad and Republic of Guinea, and expand the programme across borders into key neighbouring countries
  • A grant of nearly US$7.5 million has been awarded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to FIND, the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD) and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM)

Geneva, Switzerland; Marseille, France & Liverpool, UK – 4 December 2019 – The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD) and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) announced today the award of nearly US$7.5 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to extend the Trypa-NO! project that is driving elimination of gambiense human African trypanosomiasis (gHAT; also known as sleeping sickness). The Trypa-NO! extension aims to validate disease elimination as a public health problem in Uganda and Ivory Coast, drive cases to zero in Chad and Republic of Guinea, and expand the programme across key country borders into South Sudan, Central African Republic and Sierra Leone. FIND also confirmed additional funding from the Republic and State of Geneva, Switzerland, to continue surveillance-based sleeping sickness elimination activities in Angola, Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

Sleeping sickness is a potentially fatal disease, transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected tsetse fly. Trypanosoma brucei gambiense accounts for more than 98% of reported cases. It is endemic to 36 sub-Saharan African countries, putting 65 million people at risk, and cause many epidemics just a century ago. Following sustained control efforts, sleeping sickness has now been targeted by the World Health Organization (WHO) for elimination as a public health problem by 2020, with the ultimate goal of reaching zero transmission by 2030.[1] In 2009, the number of reported cases dropped below 10,000 for the first time in 50 years; and in 2018, 977 cases were reported. Some countries have recently seen only a handful of cases.[2]

Trypa-NO! was first launched in 2016 as a partnership between FIND, IRD, LSTM and Vestergaard, with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to harmonize and integrate the screening, diagnosis and treatment of sleeping sickness with tsetse fly control in Chad, Ivory Coast, Republic of Guinea and Uganda. The project extension announced today enables FIND, IRD and LSTM to continue activities that will allow these four countries to realize elimination, including use of existing interventions and innovative strategies. In Uganda and Ivory Coast – both already on the brink of gHAT elimination – focused technical assistance will be provided on dossier development for elimination validation by WHO and post-elimination strategies.

The extension will also secure the gains made during the first phase of the project, including activation of elimination surveillance systems, implementation of passive and reactive screening strategies, maintenance or scale-back of vector control, and support for resource planning so that countries can maintain their own programmes without external support. These activities will extend across border regions to protect the original Trypa-NO! achievements and maintain elimination where there is a risk of disease importation.

“This critical funding brings sleeping sickness elimination closer than ever,” said Professor Joseph Ndung’u, Head of Neglected Tropical Diseases at FIND, and Chancellor of the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Kenya. “The Trypa-NO! extension will safeguard the tremendous progress we have achieved in Chad, Ivory Coast, Republic of Guinea and Uganda, and underlines the critical role of new tools in disease elimination strategies.”

“Close international collaboration, strengthened local capacity and new tools, including ‘Tiny Targets’ to control tsetse, are enabling Trypa-NO! partners to realize the ambitious goal of eliminating Gambian sleeping sickness as a public health problem,” said Professor Steve Torr of LSTM.

“It’s so exciting to see how research can contribute to sustainable solutions such as eliminating one of the most terrible neglected tropical diseases,” said Dr Mamadou Camara, head of national sleeping sickness control programme in Republic of Guinea.

Trypa-NO! extension activities will commence at the end of 2019, and run for 3 years.

The Trypa-NO! project extension is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation through a grant to FIND. Additional gHAT elimination activities in Angola, Republic of Congo and South Sudan are supported by the Republic and State of Geneva, Switzerland.

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[1] World Health Organization. Trypanosomiasis, human African (sleeping sickness) www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/trypanosomiasis-human-african-(sleeping-sickness) (accessed 26 November 2019)

[2] Franco, J.R., et al., Monitoring the elimination of human African trypanosomiasis: Update to 2016. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 2018. 12(12): p. e0006890. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30521525 (accessed 25 November 2019)

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About FIND
FIND is a global non-profit organization that drives innovation in the development and delivery of diagnostics to combat major diseases affecting the world’s poorest populations. Our work bridges R&D to access, overcoming scientific barriers to technology development; generating evidence for regulators and policy-makers; addressing market failures; and enabling accelerated uptake and access to diagnostics in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Since 2003, we have been instrumental in the development of 24 new diagnostic tools. Over 50 million FIND-supported products have been provided to 150 LMICs since the start of 2015. A WHO Collaborating Centre, we work with more than 200 academic, industry, governmental, and civil society partners worldwide, on over 70 active projects that cross six priority disease areas. FIND is committed to a future in which diagnostics underpin treatment decisions and provide the foundation for disease surveillance, control, and prevention.

About IRD
A major player in research for development, the IRD is a multidisciplinary research institute dedicated to working closely with partner countries in tropical zones and around the Mediterranean on global development issues. Placed under the supervision of the French Ministry of Research and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, the IRD uses an original approach on development research and expertise throughout its international network in over 50 countries. The IRD aims at using its research and tools for the benefit of countries that make science and innovation the prime levers for development. In March 2015 with the appointment of new governance, the IRD established a newly restructured organization engaged in a global approach to development. Thanks to its scientific excellence and international cooperation model, the IRD is positioning itself in a globalized research context as a scientific leader dedicated to positioning research for development as a major tool for the new development agenda. Within IRD, the joint IRD-Cirad Research unit INTERTRYP (http://umr-intertryp.cirad.fr/) is dedicated to research and control of NTD due to Trypanosomatids, focusing on a One Health approach on interactions between parasites, vectors, human and animal hosts in their environment. To learn more, visit http://en.ird.fr/ird.fr.

About LSTM
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) is the world’s oldest centre of excellence in tropical medicine and international public health. It has been engaged in the fight against infectious, debilitating and disabling diseases since 1898 and continues that tradition today with a research portfolio over £320 million and a teaching programme attracting students from over 65 countries. For further information, please visit: www.lstmed.ac.uk

Media contacts
FIND: Sarah-Jane Loveday, Head of Communications
T: +41 (0) 22 710 27 88
M: +41 (0) 79 431 62 44
media@finddx.org

IRD: Anne-Claire Jucobin, Directrice de la Communication
dcpi@ird.fr

LSTM: Clare Bebb, Senior Media Officer
T: +44 (0) 151 705 3135
M: +44 (0) 7889 535222
Clare.bebb@lstmed.ac.uk