Two decades ago in Oslo, Norway, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) received the Nobel Peace Prize. They dedicated a portion of their award to explore a new, not-for-profit model to develop drugs for neglected patients which eventually became the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi).
23 years later, another major event for our organization will take place in the land of the midnight sun.
TV-aksjonen, one of the world’s largest fundraising events
For two hours on Sunday 23 October, up to 100,000 volunteers of all ages in every Norwegian city and village will visit millions of households to ask for donations for MSF and DNDi. The volunteers will gather donations using large collection boxes called ‘bøsser’ and local events will be organized – all to support MSF and DNDi’s activities.
At the same time, nearly half a million children will learn about neglected diseases through a tailormade school project that is offered for free to children between 6 and 15 years of age.
This extraordinary outpouring of generosity is part of a massive annual charity event called TV-aksjonen, which has been organized since 1974 by the Norwegian public broadcaster NRK. It is the world’s largest fundraiser in terms of donations per capita.
We are immensely proud to have been selected, along with MSF, as the beneficiaries of the 2022 edition of the event. Its slogan: ‘Together, we are saving lives’. Previous beneficiaries include the Red Cross, the Norwegian Refugee Council, Unicef, WWF, and Amnesty International.
Neglected by the industry: when drugs needed to cure millions don’t even exist
In the 80s and 90s, MSF doctors helping communities hit by conflict and disasters were faced with patients affected by neglected diseases, such as sleeping sickness and visceral leishmaniasis, for which they had no medicines. Existing drugs were toxic, unavailable, or unaffordable. Many of these diseases can be fatal without treatment, but they are neglected because the traditional pharmaceutical industry has no financial incentive to develop drugs for them since they mostly affect poor communities.
DNDi was born from the frustration felt by MSF doctors and researchers from countries affected by neglected diseases who faced this devastating lack of treatments and medical injustice. MSF dedicated a portion of the Nobel Peace Prize award to addressing this fatal imbalance and partnered with the World Health Organization and leading medical institutes in Brazil, France, India, Kenya, and Malaysia to set up DNDi – a non-profit organization with the mission to develop drugs for neglected populations.
Since 2003, DNDi has developed 12 new treatments for 6 deadly diseases, saving millions of lives.
Funding vital research for two deadly neglected diseases
The funds raised by the 2022 edition of TV-aksjonen will be used to support MSF’s fight against deadly diseases in four countries (Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic and Bangladesh) and to finance DNDi’s projects working to develop new, safe, affordable, easy-to-administer drugs for sleeping sickness and visceral leishmaniasis.
Today, despite some improvements in treatments, these two deadly neglected diseases still affect millions from the most vulnerable communities, especially in Latin America, Africa, and South Asia. Doctors still do not have adequate medicines to treat their patients, but with your support our teams are researching how to make existing treatments better and develop promising new compounds into optimal treatments.
We would like to express our warmest thanks to the thousands of volunteers and the millions of donors from Norway for this outstanding show of solidarity. Thank you for helping us bring the best science to the most neglected!
Photo credits: Mikkel Strøm/TV-aksjonen; Marion Mossing / MSF; Alexis Huguet; Xavier Vahed-DNDi