Fighting Buruli Ulcer

Partnership Objectives

  1. Raising community awareness
  2. Training healthcare professionals
  3. Early detection and care of patients
  4. Strengthening care structures for disabilities and their prevention
  5. Rehabilitation of the disabled using mobile occupational therapy

The actions on the ground in support of the country’s Ministry of Health and local stakeholders. The actions on the ground in support of the country’s Ministry of Health and local stakeholders. Copyright Handicap International, Sanofi Aventis

What are the health needs and challenges?

Buruli Ulcer is an infectious, disabling tropical disease recognized by the WHO as an emerging danger for public health. It mainly affects children aged under 15, and causes irreversible mutilation when it escapes early detection. Buruli Ulcer is the third most frequent mycobacteriosis after tuberculosis and leprosy. The disease propagates in stagnant or marshy water, and seems to be caused by bites from certain aquatic insects. Buruli Ulcer mainly affects poor communities in rural environments involved in agricultural work.

The World Bank estimates that among people living below the poverty line 1 in 5 is disabled. Disability creates additional costs, resulting in loss of income, restricts access to health, education, employment, and community life, and forces people with disabilities and limited resources into social and economic exclusion.

Description of partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges

The Sanofi Espoir Foundation partnered with the NGO Handicap International in Togo and Benin to fight Buruli Ulcer. The actions on the ground in support of the country’s Ministry of Health and local stakeholders involved community awareness-raising, training health professionals, the detection and early management of patients, and rehabilitating those with disabilities.

Lessons learned

Development programs, set up by NGOs together with local government representatives can play a very important role on the national health policy.

Example: Handicap International Togo, helped by its partners, has developed since 2007 a series of actions to step up the anti-Buruli Ulcer program in Togo currently lagging behind those in neighboring Benin and Ghana. As a result of all these initiatives, the National Buruli Ulcer, Leprosy and Plan Program developed a policy document and a five-year plan to fight Buruli Ulcer.

Summary of impact and forward looking information

As a result of the pilot project (2008-2010) in the coastal region, 202 new cases were detected, 109 of them confirmed as Buruli Ulcer by the PCR – a confirmation rate of 54%.

In 2011, this program was extended to a second coastal region in Togo and Benin, with the transfer of skills in motor physiotherapy and rehabilitating people with disabilities.

Partnership information

Company(ies) Sanofi

Partner(s) Centre Hospitalier Régional de Tsevie, Centre National d’Appareillage Orthopédique, Fondation ANESVAD, German Leprosy and Tuberculosis Relief Association, Handicap International, Local hospitals & health centers & patient groups, PNLUB Benin, PNLUB-LP Togo, World Health Organization (WHO)

Type of Partner(s) Academia / Hospitals, Government, IGOs, NGOs

Therapeutic Focus Neglected Tropical Diseases

Disease(s) Buruli Ulcer

Program Type(s) Prevention Programs - Awareness & Outreach

Targeted Population(s) Children, Men, Mothers, People with low income, Women, Youth

Region(s) Sub-Saharan Africa

Number of Countries 2

Country(ies) Benin, Togo

Start Date 2007

More information Sanofi Espoir

Completed date 2013

« The mobile physical therapist taken on by Handicap International began monthly reeducation sessions with Koffi in his farm. He showed the boy how to do exercises, using the technical and human resources of his immediate environment. »

Case-study of Koffi Dakapeti, 16