“We had to move quickly, as we feared she would die”

Bonface Omuli, MSF clinical officer, Agok, South Sudan

Photograph by Alexandra Malm/MSF
Thumbnail

Why can’t we treat more people for neglected diseases?

The medical tools we need are scarce – and pharmaceutical corporations continue to neglect certain diseases and populations.

A poisonous snake bit six-year-old Nyajinma as she slept. Her mother brought her to the nearest health centre, but the antivenom she required wasn’t available. 

The health centre’s staff referred Nyajinma to an MSF hospital. We had the antivenom in stock. Without it, she would have died.

Snakebite kills an estimated 100,000 people every year, and disables or disfigures many victims.

But one key medicine that can save them is no longer being manufactured, and we need more products to be developed to save lives.

Diseases like snakebite, Chagas, kala azar and sleeping sickness, although they are all lifethreatening, are neglected. The people most severely affected live in poor and marginalised communities where access to healthcare is limited. And research for new drugs and tests remains inadequate.

Multinational pharmaceutical corporations ignore these diseases. We can't.
 

Three things to know about tropical and neglected diseases

What MSF staff are saying

"We will have to use two different antivenoms as an interim solution. Treating patients is much more complex, as the alternative antivenoms don’t cover the same wide range of snake species as FAV-Afrique.  This is a problem as victims rarely know the specific type of snake which bit them."

Christine Jamet, MSF Programme Manager in South Sudan