Health and Social Needs

Help in the fight against African sleeping sickness

Nearly 60 million people in Africa are threatened by African sleeping sickness. In Congo this infection now kills as many people as AIDS. To help combat the disease, Bayer has agreed to provide its active ingredient suramin to the World Health Organization free of charge for a five-year period.

African sleeping sickness is caused by a parasite transmitted by the tsetse fly in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is a fatal condition if left untreated. The disease was brought largely under control in the 1960s, but since then prevention and therapy have been neglected, leading to a resurgence of sleeping sickness.

Bayer is also supporting the WHO’s Special Program for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) by means of clinical studies. Tests are being conducted to investigate the suitability of a drug product with the active ingredient nifurtimox in combating African sleeping sickness. This product was originally developed and registered for the treatment of Chagas’ disease, an infectious disease likewise caused by parasites that occurs exclusively in Latin America. Several studies with various dose strengths for treatment of African sleeping sickness have already been conducted.


Bayer has spoken out in favor of an “Integrated Sleeping Sickness Initiative” to be supported by as many institutions as possible. The initiative will cover all aspects of the disease, from infection via diagnosis and therapy through to prevention. Bayer is also involved in the “Pan African Trypanosomiasis and Tsetse Eradication Campaign”, which was founded in July 2000 by the WHO and other organizations. The campaign aims to halt the spread of the tsetse fly.

Last updated: February 28, 2014 Copyright © Bayer AG
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