Fighting diseases of poverty:Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi)

Project completed

Neglected tropical diseases mainly affect poor and marginalised populations in low and middle-income countries who have no purchasing power. This is the main reason why there is no incentive for the private sector to develop appropriate treatments for these diseases. DNDi develops and provides worldwide access to new and improved treatments as well as contributes to strengthening research capacities in endemic countries and advocates research on these diseases.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Infectious desease
Health systems strengthening
01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020
CHF  8’000’000

There is still a critical lack of adequate treatment options for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), due to market and policy failures, which have left millions of patients with either inappropriate or no treatments at all.

DNDi is a patient needs-driven, non-profit drug research and development (R&D) organization that supports an innovative, open and collaborative approach. As one of the most successful product development partnerships (PDPs), it contributes to addressing the related scientific, economic, legal and political challenges in developing new health products and technologies as well as to ensuring their rapid and widespread use.


DNDi’s overall goal is to develop new and improve existing treatments for neglected tropical diseases, in order to reduce their global burden as well as to save lives and improve the quality of life for patients and populations at risk. The specific objective is to deliver 16 to 18 treatments by 2023 for leishmaniasis, Human African Trypanosomiasis (or sleeping sickness), Chagas disease, filariasis, paediatric HIV, hepatitis C and/or mycetoma and to establish a strong R&D portfolio for these diseases. Furthermore, DNDi will also contribute to tackling antimicrobial resistance.

Target groups

There are several main beneficiaries. First and foremost, the approximately one billion people worldwide affected by NTDs, mainly in Africa and mostly those living in remote rural areas, urban slums or conflict zones. Additional beneficiaries are health personnel, as well as the health and regulatory authorities in disease-endemic countries. Eventually, research partners worldwide benefit from the open and free available data.

Medium-term outcomes
  • Five improved treatments with registered drugs are developed, rationally used, and better accessed for Chagas disease, sleeping sickness and mycetoma
  • Two new treatments are developed for Chagas disease, mycetoma, sleeping sickness and/or leishmaniasis
  • Endemic country capacities are further strengthened, enabling them to conduct clinical trials for the development of drugs for NTDs according to international standards
  • Contribute toward raising awareness and advocacy with regard to the need to develop new drugs for neglected tropical diseases and antimicrobial resistance

Expected results:  

  • Two new chemical entities are developed
  • Regulatory submissions and country registration of products developed in at least 10 countries
  • Country policy guidelines and international policy changes in at least 5 countries
  • Improvements in infrastructure, human resource capacities, technology transfers underway
  • Current clinical platforms strengthened and new ones developed
  • 15 articles / presentations per year, one policy brief per year

Results from previous phases:  

  • Development of better and simpler treatment for sleeping sickness and visceral leishmaniasis
  • Generation of the first child-adapted Chagas disease treatment
  • Development of more effective treatment for children with HIV/TB co-infections
  • Inclusion of two new treatments in the WHO Essential Medicines List
  • Successful transfer of malaria portfolio to the Medicines for Malaria Venture
  • Recognition of mycetoma on the WHO’s list of ‘neglected tropical diseases’
  • Establishment of active research platforms to enhance research, technology transfer capacity, collaboration and training

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
Swiss Non-profit Organisation
  • Other Swiss Non-profit Organisation

Other partners

Over 160 private and public partners worldwide

Coordination with other projects and actors

GFATM, WHO, TDR, MMV, FIND, Swiss Malaria Group, Swiss TPH, FOPH, Swissmedic

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    8’000’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    8’000’000
Project phases Phase 4 01.01.2021 - 31.12.2024   (Current phase)

Phase 3 01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020   (Completed)

Phase 2 01.01.2013 - 31.12.2016   (Completed)