An international partnership, which includes Rwanda Biomedical Center and University of Rwanda and led by the UK’s Brighton and Sussex Medical School, has been awarded over $9 million grant.
From UK’s National Institute for Health Research, the grant will help to carry out vital work on some of the most ‘ignored’ diseases in Africa.
The new grant will fund research in Rwanda, Ethiopia and Sudan working on three ‘neglected tropical diseases’: Podoconiosis, Mycetoma and scabies.
Together, these skin diseases affect millions of vulnerable people in poor communities in Africa and across the world. These diseases have historically lacked the investment needed to carry out meaningful, life-changing research.
Dr Mbituyimana Aimable the division manager of parasitic diseases in RBC told the media today, that a lot has been done to provide treatment to over six thousand patients affected by Podoconiosis diseases.
“So far we have started giving treatment to both children and adults affected by Podoconiosis and others with abdominal worms as NTD, but the specific case of podoconiosis research shows that it’s common in Western and Northern part of the country with nearly 40% of the cases,” Mbituyimana said.
Principal Investigator, Melanie Newport, Professor of Infectious Diseases and Global Health at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, said: “This grant will enable us to continue our work on these debilitating and stigmatising conditions that affect millions of the world’s poorest people.
She said, that central to their approach is to train and empower future researchers from the targeted.
They intend to strengthen their capacity to do similar research.
This grant will, among others, support training for 7 PhD students and 13 post-doctoral researchers in Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Sudan.
This coming week over 100 academics, students and staff from across the partnership will hold a series of scientific meetings in Kigali, to coincide with the launch of the Kigali Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs).
Podoconiosis among the neglected disease is a progressive form of leg swelling often seen in barefoot farmers, while Mycetoma is a slow-growing, destructive infection of the skin and underlying tissues.
Scabies is a profoundly irritating infectious skin condition caused by tiny mites burrowing into the skin and occurs in outbreaks in vulnerable communities.
“Rwanda firmly committed in eliminating NTDs IN 2030. Therefore integration campaign and the use of home grown solutions within the community is the way to go,” Rwanda’s Minister of Health Dr. Daniel Ngamije said on Tuesday.
“This new project launched, and political commitment is a step ahead in ELIMINATING NTDs which is causing extreme poverty in some African countries,’’ says Prof Gail Davey of Global Health Epidemiology at Brighton and Sussex medical school.
Statistics from World Health Organisation indicate that at least 1 in 5 people around the world are affected by NTDs.