Cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) is caused by the leishmania parasite which is transmitted by the bites of infected sand flies. The disease leads to skin lesions that leave lifelong scars and serious disability. Globally, the disease affects an estimated 2 million people. CL is endemic in the Middle East, with countries such as Syria and Yemen reporting a significantly high number of cases. CL is also present in Saudi Arabia.
There is no vaccine to prevent CL, and existing medications for treatment have harmful side effects. Prevention is critical.
The Shefa Fund supported a proof of concept project in Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahsa region to prevent, treat, and prove CL can be eliminated. The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine researched methods to control CL, explored new diagnostic tools to quickly identify the disease, and reviewed treatment options to reduce costs and side effects.
patient histories were collected, digitized, and evaluated
global collaborations established
The Shefa Fund’s $1.69 million grant supported the Liverpool School’s work in the Al Ahsa region of Saudi Arabia. Research through this grant enabled the creation of a new vector control tool to address the spread of the disease. Analysis also revealed that foreign workers were particularly susceptible to CL, leading to the creation of multi-language education campaigns and localized health support. This funding laid the foundation for research and development, policy changes, and diagnostics for CL—enabling future projects to successfully address the full breadth of factors contributing to the disease.
The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine is the oldest research and teaching organization in the field of tropical medicine. They work in more than 70 countries, applying research innovations to improve the health of the world’s poorest people.
1 Banner, 2 Combating Cutaneous Leishmaniasis | Photo Credit Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation