Helping eliminate visceral leishmaniasis in Kenya with FIND

We have partnered with the not-for-profit organisation, FIND, to help eliminate visceral leishmaniasis in Kenya.

Charles Magiri, 2024


In partnership with FIND, we have launched a £6.2 million project in Kenya to improve diagnostic testing and early access to treatment for visceral leishmaniasis, a deadly parasitic disease which affects up to 90,000 children and vulnerable people globally. We have contributed £5.9 million to this project, which will support the World Health Organization’s goal of eliminating visceral leishmaniasis by 2030.

What is visceral leishmaniasis?

Visceral leishmaniasis is a neglected tropical disease caused by parasites that are spread by sandflies. It can cause irregular bouts of fever, weight loss and enlargement of the spleen and liver. Symptoms can be difficult to differentiate from other diseases, such as chronic malaria.

The disease is found in Africa, the Americas (particularly Brazil), the Middle East and Southeast Asia and is particularly prevalent in areas with unsanitary housing conditions, which create ideal breeding sites for sandflies. Malnutrition also increases the risk that an infection will progress to the full disease, meaning that children and vulnerable adults living in some of the world’s poorest communities are most at risk. There are 3 forms of leishmaniasis: visceral (affecting internal organs), cutaneous (affecting the skin) and mucocutaneous (affecting the mouth, nose and throat), all of which can cause serious disability. However, visceral leishmaniasis – sometimes known as kala-azar – is fatal in over 95% of cases if left untreated.

About the project

The ‘Intensifying Visceral Leishmaniasis Diagnostic Efforts in Support of Disease Elimination in Kenya’ project will run from 2024 to 2027, focusing on early diagnosis and treatment to prevent disability and death.

The project will build on ongoing efforts to improve community awareness, boost testing capacity both locally and nationally, and strengthen the capacity of the health system to ensure faster diagnosis and treatment. Crucially, the project will also accelerate development of novel tests for the disease, addressing the need for sensitive diagnostic procedures that can support more intense control measures.

 This project is part of our Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) Translational Challenge which aims to support the elimination and control of neglected tropical diseases through the translation, development and implementation of new diagnostics and therapeutics.

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