Leishmaniases are serious communicable diseases found over the whole world. Endemic areas include the Indian subcontinent, Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Euro-Mediterranean area. These diseases are spreading, as control of them is being challenged by three escalating risk factors, namely:
- human-made and environmental changes;
- immune status (essentially because of Leishmania/HIVco-infection);
- treatment failure and drug resistance.
Interaction between these elements is poorly studied and understood. Given their significant individual influence on the spread of leishmaniasis, it is possible that the synergy of these risk factors might create the 'critical mass' needed for an explosive epidemiological status for leishmaniasis. In addition to further research in this field, more modern tools for surveillance and control of leishmaniasis are required.
In the past years, 13 EU-funded consortia (under FP5, FP6 and FP7) have been active in varying aspects of leishmaniasis research. Because of their research topics (environmental surveillance, diagnostics, molecular epidemiology, chemotherapy, drug resistance, control intervention) and geographical coverage (Euro-Mediterranean region, Latin America, Africa, Asia), these consortia are very complimentary to each other. As such, a platform for further coordination and exchange of knowledge and technologies provided by these consortia would significantly contribute to the improvement of leishmaniasis control.
The general objective of the LeishRisk project is to:
- network the EU-funded networks active in leishmaniasis;
- promote dissemination of their findings relevant for improved surveillance and control of leishmaniasis at worldwide scale and;
- prepare future joined actions.