• DNDi In search of new cures for neglected diseases

The Medicines for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) has been awarded the Princess of Asturias Award for International Cooperation, the jury announced on Thursday.

This non-profit organization was founded in 2003 with the aim of developing treatments against so-called neglected or neglected diseases; disorders such as Chagas, dengue, kala azar or river blindness, among others, which affect between 1,000 and 1,500 million people in the world, mainly in impoverished areas.

In these 20 years, DNDi has managed to bring patients 12 effective treatments for these ailments, such as fexinidazole, a treatment that has radically changed the approach to sleeping sickness; two antimalarials or antiretrovirals specifically designed for children with HIV, among other examples.

Now, the goal is to make available before 2028 at least 13 other new therapies that are capable of combating these disorders that we often forget in the first world,Luis Pizarro, executive director of the organization, told EL MUNDO last February.

"Beyond diseases, those we forget in the first place are people, those who suffer from these disorders," Pizarro said. "They are forgotten by the pharmaceutical industry, which today is mainly driven by profit. [...] But we also forget, we neglect these populations. My family comes from northern Chile, where Chagas disease exists and for years I didn't even hear about it. In the affected countries, our governments, doctors, scientists also have to put these people and these diseases at the forefront of our priorities," said Pizarro, who warned that the international community cannot remain oblivious to this reality.

"Diseases such as Lassa fever or Ebola are neglected diseases that, if not taken into account, can have at any given time an important pandemic potential," explained the doctor, who throughout his career has worked on international cooperation projects. In addition to ethics and commitment to equality, "dealing with these diseases is thinking about eventually preventing more serious situations," he said.

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