DNDi was established in 2003 by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Brazil’s Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, the Indian Council of Medical Research, the Kenya Medical Research Institute, the Ministry of Health of Malaysia, and the Pasteur Institute of France, with the World Health Organization’s Special Program for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) as a permanent observer.
In the late 1990s, Doctors Without Borders field teams were becoming increasingly frustrated because they were unable to treat patients suffering from certain neglected diseases—the medicines they were using were ineffective, toxic, or no longer produced. Doctors Without Borders committed a portion of its 1999 Nobel Peace Prize funds to create a new, innovative, patient needs-driven organization dedicated to research and development (R&D) for neglected diseases – and DNDi was the result.
Since its creation, DNDi has delivered six new treatments for neglected patients:
- Two new malaria treatments (100 million treatments distributed as of 2011)
- A combination treatment for sleeping sickness (the first new treatment for this disease in 25 years)
- A combination therapy for visceral leishmaniasis (kala azar) in Africa
- A set of short-course and combination therapies for kala azar in Asia
- Pediatric dosage form of the primary drug used to treat Chagas disease
Collectively, neglected tropical diseases kill approximately 1 million people worldwide each year and malaria kills an additional 880,000. More than a quarter of a million children with HIV die every year.
DNDi is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, with a team of 50 scientific researchers and other professionals. In addition to the office in the U.S., the organization has five regional offices in Kenya, India, Brazil, Japan, and Malaysia, and one project support office in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
DNDi North America, an affiliate of DNDi, is a registered 501(c)(3) organization in the United States that works to strengthen and expand DNDi‘s scientific, advocacy, and fundraising efforts in the region.