Funding for wider access to treatment could reduce the number of deaths from the worst outbreak of a deadly parasite known as kala azar.
Kala azar is another name given to visceral leishmaniasis (VL), a parasitic disease endemic in around 70 countries worldwide.
While effective treatment exists, the disease hasn't garnered the worldwide attention of diseases like malaria, and donors and governments have long neglected the deadly parasite.
"The poorest of the poor, in the most remote villages are the ones who are wasting away from kala azar and who could benefit the most from a shorter more affordable treatment" said Dr. Monique Wasunna, Assistant Director, KEMRI, and Head, DNDi Africa.
"Neglected diseases and patients mean that even when there are new treatments and hope, they are too far from the headlines and donor priorities to get support to governments. This is why we are calling for urgent action."
This week in Nairobi, over 100 clinical researchers and regional experts from Ministries of Health and drug regulatory authorities are meeting for the bi-annual LEAP - Leishmaniasis East Africa Platform - to see what is and is not working in the field and to find better ways to control the disease.
After 70 years of little improvement or change in the treatment of kala azar in Africa, LEAP and its partners have developed a new treatment: Sodium Stibogluconate and Paromomycin (SSG and PM) combination treatment. This is cheaper and nearly halves the length of treatment from the current 30-day course of injections to 17 days.
Countries around the region are in the process of registration and are ready to use the treatment, but need funding to control the disease.