While there is an increasing international awareness on AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, developing countries are devastated by a large number of 'neglected' diseases. Leishmaniasis, onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis and trypanosomiasis are all diseases with a low mortality but a particularly high morbidity, as they affect over one billion people.
These particularly debilitating diseases are a contributing factor to the persistence of the poverty cycle; controlling them represents a genuine opportunity for health and economic development.
The Fondation decided to take part in a new initiative alongside four European foundations: Fondazione Caripio, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Nuffield Foundation and Volkswagen Stiftung. This consortium of foundations aims to develop research potential on these diseases in Africa. In this way, a grant program was set up for junior researchers in African institutions to enable them to conduct research projects on neglected tropical diseases within the African context.
The programme is targeted at post-doctoral researchers currently working in Sub-Saharan countries or junior researchers aiming to work in their country of origin to reinforce local potential.
This initiative was officially launched at the conference on neglected tropical diseases held in Bamako, at the Charles Mérieux Centre, in September 2008. Twelve researchers received grants for 70,000 to 150,000 Euros over of three year period.
The second edition was launched mid-2009. During a conference held in Lisbon in February 2010, eight fellowships were allotted for an entire amount of 850,000 euros.