NIAID-funded scientists are working on an innovative research initiative to stop the transmission of Human African Trypanosomiasis, also known as sleeping sickness. Read more about sleeping sickness research in Uganda.
The sub-Saharan Africa region faces an array of health challenges that are not only socially debilitating but also corrosive to economic development and regional stability.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria claim approximately 3 million lives in the region each year. Parasitic diseases, such as hookworm and schistosomiasis, also are prevalent, mostly among children, and cause hundreds of thousands of deaths and widespread suffering.
NIAID is at the forefront of research efforts to address the high disease burden in Africa and has had many notable successes in the region. For example, NIAID-supported trials in Africa showed that two doses of nevirapine, administered to mothers at childbirth and then to their infants soon after birth, reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV. More recently, clinical trials demonstrated that medically supervised circumcision of adult African men reduces their risk of acquiring HIV via heterosexual intercourse. A clinical trial in The Gambia showed that a pneumococcal vaccine substantially reduces pneumonia deaths among children.
WHO estimates that more than 1.6 million people—including more than 800,000 children under age five—die every year from pneumococcal infections. The Gambia Pneumococcal Vaccine Trial, funded in part by NIAID, was the first major randomized, controlled vaccine clinical trial in nearly 20 years to show a statistically significant reduction in overall child mortality. Findings indicate that vaccinating infants against Streptococcus pneumoniae bacterium could substantially reduce death and illness among children in developing countries, including in rural areas with limited access to public health systems. Learn more.
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Last Updated February 03, 2014
Last Reviewed October 15, 2012