Islamabad, 28 February 2023 (TDI): The Standing Committee for Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH) organized a 3-day workshop titled “Identification of New Lead Compounds and Diagnostic Tools for Leishmaniasis: Concepts, Approaches, and Capacity Building.”

The workshop took place from 23rd to 25th February 2023 at the University of Nairobi, Kenya. It was conducted in collaboration with the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) network, and Durham University, United Kingdom (UK).

The other collaborators included the International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), the University of Karachi, and the University of Nairobi. The Coordinator-General of COMSTECH, Dr. Iqbal Choudhary addressed the workshop.

He highlighted the importance of using drugs from folk medicine instead of expensive imported medicine to control the high number of cases of cutaneous and visceral Leishmaniasis in tropical regions of Africa and Asia.

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The workshop was attended by 50 participants from 12 countries including Kenya, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

Additionally, representatives from UK, Argentina, Uruguay, and Pakistan also attended the event to grow awareness about the health challenges associated with Leishmaniasis.

The participants praised COMSTECH and NTD-Network UK for their contributions to the advancement of science and technology in the Afro-Asian region. Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Kenya, Syeda Saqlain, attended the event as a Guest of Honor.

What is Leishmaniasis?

Leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease that is found in parts of the tropics, subtropics, and southern Europe, including Pakistan and Kenya. The increasing prevalence of Leishmaniasis around the world, particularly in the African region, is a major public health issue.

People who develop clinical evidence of infection usually have a fever, weight loss, enlargement (swelling) of the spleen and liver, and abnormal blood tests.

The immune response to Leishmania is complex and it appears that no vaccine exists against the disease due to the limited understanding of the cell determinants needed for long-lasting protective immunity. Therefore, it is vital to develop the capacity for finding new drug leads.