20 years ago, doctors and health workers around the world were faced with shocking neglect: a lack of effective, safe, and affordable medicines for neglected diseases.
When Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999, they dedicated a portion of the award to exploring a new, alternative, not-for-profit model for developing drugs for neglected patients.
In 2003, five international research institutions teamed up with MSF and the World Health Organization Special Programme on Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (WHO/TDR) to found DNDi. Together with partners who’ve been with us from the start and hundreds more who’ve joined us since, we have delivered 12 affordable new treatments for six deadly diseases.
Throughout 2023, we’ve joined with our friends and allies to look back at the advances our partnerships have made and examining the obstacles we’ve yet to overcome.
Out of the Shadows
Filmed to mark DNDi’s 20th anniversary, Out of the Shadows tells the story of DNDi researchers around the world working to develop treatments for patients who have lived in the shadows for too long.
The film shows how our unique, not-for-profit drug development partnerships have delivered new treatments that have saved millions of lives and put certain diseases, like sleeping sickness, on the pathway to elimination. But the film also shows why these alliances are needed for the next 20 years: both for climate-sensitive diseases but also to ensure that even the most neglected patients reap the benefits of today’s AI-powered revolution in drug discovery.
Our founding partners established DNDi in 2003 in response to shocking neglect: patients and health workers around the world were faced with medicines that were ineffective, unsafe, priced out of reach, or simply never developed at all.
Our story is about turning frustration into action to ensure all people can benefit from the fruits of scientific progress.
Our founding partners
DNDi wouldn’t exist without our founding partners the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Brazil, the Kenyan Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), the Malaysian Ministry of Health, the Institut Pasteur of France, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), and the World Health Organization Special Programme on Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (WHO/TDR) who joined forces in 2003 to explore a new, alternative, not-for-profit model for developing drugs for neglected populations.
On our 20th anniversary, we thank these organizations for their commitment developing life-saving medicines for the most neglected patients and we look forward to their engagement for the next chapter in our shared journey.
Focusing on our commitment to the best science
In January, we introduced a refreshed logo, updated to incorporate the words ‘Best Science for the Most Neglected’ – a simple phrase that has defined who we are and what we do from the very beginning and that represents the ethos we know will continue to bind our partners together throughout DNDi’s next chapter.
DNDi’s 20th anniversary in the media
- La Zone d’Ecoute – DNDi : de la révolte à l’innovation
- BMF – 20 years of bringing the best science to the most neglected
- MSF Access Campaign – DNDi: 20 years of delivering treatments for neglected patients
- Folha de S. Paulo – Doenças negligenciadas ameaçam saúde pública global
- ABC – Medicine for the most neglected
Building a stronger and safer community to tackle dengue in India
On India’s National Dengue Day, we hosted an event with one of our founding partners, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), to discuss how we can improve surveillance, prevention, treatment, and control of dengue in South Asia through collective action such as the Dengue Alliance.
Shining a light on inclusive innovation at the World Health Assembly
As part of our 20th anniversary activities, we were delighted to be joined by dozens of partners and friends of DNDi on the side-lines of the 76th World Health Assembly in May for our event titled ‘Accelerating universal health coverage with inclusive new tools’.
Reflecting on progress and pitfalls in meeting the health needs of neglected and marginalized communities, our guest speakers explored the role of inclusive medical innovation in supporting progress toward the goal of universal health coverage, by providing access to context-specific, accessible, and affordable health tools for everyone who needs them.
10-year anniversary of the Lead Optimization Latin America project
In 2013, DNDi launched its first innovative drug discovery research programme for neglected diseases in Latin America: the Lead Optimization Latin America project (LOLA). Since then, the LOLA project has built on and enhanced the research and development potential in Latin America using an international collaborative approach, rooted in Brazil.
On the occasion of LOLA’s 10-year anniversary, we hosted an event in Campinas, São Paulo with over 200 participants from more than 25 countries to discuss how to advance neglected disease drug discovery in endemic regions. Speakers addressed important topics such as the integration between drug discovery and development, capacity strengthening and sustainable innovation, and biodiversity and natural-products inspiration. We look forward to continuing working together to discover new treatments for neglected diseases through the LOLA project.
Running for neglected patients
On 18 November 2023, we hosted a 10 km run themed ‘Run for Neglected Patients’ in Kacheliba, West Pokot, Kenya. The run aimed to raise awareness about neglected diseases, spotlight the crucial need for research and development for innovative patient solutions, and address the treatment gaps faced by the world’s most vulnerable due to the lack of effective interventions.
In the lead-up to the charity run, we held a free medical camp at Kacheliba Girls Primary School providing medical consultations, treatment, and preventive care services to over 900 people – including 252 children under five, addressing community members’ medical concerns and providing guidance on improving overall well-being.
Connecting with Japanese stakeholders on medical innovation for the most neglected
On Monday 27 November, DNDi hosted a webinar with Japanese stakeholders to look back at DNDi’s achievements so far, and discuss expectations for Japan and the role of the Japan office in the future outlook.
Our Head of Dengue Programme Dr Neelika Malavige presented the threat posed by the climate-sensitive disease dengue and our work to find treatment solutions working with a global alliance of partners from endemic countries.
Neglected tropical diseases in India: An interactive session with health journalists
We hosted an event at the Press Club of India, a safe space for a two-way exchange between DNDi and the media to understand the challenges reporters face covering neglected tropical diseases. Reporters highlighted the problems they encountered while covering these diseases, such as a lack of funding for travel, inability to access data, and editors’ reluctance to run stories without compelling statistics.
Dr Kavita Singh, DNDi’s South Asia Director, informed reporters about DNDi’s work in India, focusing specifically on our efforts to find safer, affordable, and effective treatments for diseases such as visceral leishmaniasis and dengue. The event was a great opportunity for learning and exchanging ideas and we look forward to working with these reporters in the future to raise awareness about neglected diseases in the region.
DNDi20 symposium in Brazil
On Tuesday 28 November, a symposium held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and online marked the progress made by DNDi together with partners and discussed the gaps that persist in R&D and access to treatments for neglected diseases. Our event titled ‘20 Years of DNDi: Sustainable Solutions to Develop the Best Science for Still Neglected Populations‘ took place at Fiocruz, one of the DNDi founding partners, and gathered various actors from the field of R&D for neglected diseases — including international scientists, product developers, ministries of health from Latin American countries, policymakers, and civil society organizations.
In the debates, the speakers addressed important topics such as climate change and its consequences for global health, the innovation agenda, the financial sustainability of R&D for neglected disease, and the urgent actions needed to sustainably bring the best science to the most neglected.
We are deeply grateful to the partners and supporters who have made our work for neglected patients possible.
We invite you to help us share the advances our partnerships have made in the past 20 years!
Please follow us on social media for news about our anniversary events this year.