The office will work in close collaboration with a broad range of partners across the South African government, academia, hospitals, and civil society on the development of R&D programmes on paediatric HIV, hepatitis C, and antibiotic resistance, and will be headed by Carol Ruffell, who joins DNDi after more than 20 years of experience in the corporate pharmaceutical industry and in community pharmacy.
“DNDi has a rich history of intensive collaborations with South African partners in the development of new treatments for neglected patients, and we are grateful for the strong support from the South African Department of Health and the Medical Research Council in hosting our liaison office, which will enable us to take these partnerships to the next level, and notably develop R&D projects in the field of antimicrobial resistance,” said Carol Ruffell.
The South African liaison office will be hosted by the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), which was one of the seed funders for GARDP, a joint initiative created by DNDi and the World Health Organization, launched in 2016 to develop new antibiotic treatments addressing antimicrobial resistance and to promote their responsible use for optimal conservation, while ensuring equitable access for all in need.
“This endeavour is evidence that public-private partnerships have the ability to design responsive interventions, that when taken to scale, can positively transform the socio-economic constructs of our communities where needed,” said Professor Glenda Gray, President & CEO of the SAMRC. “We are delighted to host DNDi and GARDP as they increase their operational activities in South Africa.”
Existing or soon-to-be-launched DNDi and GARDP programmes in South Africa include:
the development and implementation of a new, solid, first-line “4-in-1” fixed-dose formulation for children living withHIV, to replace existing foul-tasting liquid solutions, which have a high alcohol content, require refrigeration and are difficult to store, making them unsuitable for use in resource-poor settings;
the development of better treatment regimens for children co-infected with HIV and TB to counter drug-drug interactions between antiretroviral therapy and anti-tuberculosis medications;
the development of a safe, effective and affordable treatment regimen for hepatitis C that can be used for all patients and all genotypes, thereby radically simplifying hepatitis C treatment and enabling a public health approach to the disease;
a clinical trial to develop a novel, first-in-class, oral antibiotic and one of the only treatments in the R&D pipeline to address the rapidly-growing threat of drug-resistant gonorrhoea;
an observational study to provide an evidence base for the use of antibiotics in neonates with serious bacterial infections, as the currently available standard of care is increasingly becoming less effective due to antimicrobial resistance.
DNDi relies on close collaboration with a number of high-profile South African partners including: Tygerberg Hospital, Cape Town; Shandukani Research Centre, Witwatersrand Reproductive Health and HIV Institute (Wits RHI), Johannesburg; Perinatal HIV Research Unit (PHRU), Johannesburg; Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Johannesburg; Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital, Johannesburg; Enhancing Care Foundation, Durban; University of Cape Town; University of Cape Town Private Academic Hospital (UCTPAH); University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and the Southern Africa Medical Unit, Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) South Africa.
The South Africa liaison office is DNDi’s ninth office across the world and the third in Africa, and complements the work of the Headquarters in Geneva and of existing regional offices in Rio de Janeiro, New Delhi, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, New York, as well as Nairobi and Kinshasa.