Yekize (yeh-kee-zeh): Harnessing the placebo effect to optimise global health outcomes
Yekize (yeh-kee-zeh) is a traditional Ugandan name, meaning ‘heal yourself’. At Yekize we believe that everyone should have access to health care, but we acknowledge that in developing countries this is not always possible. Our fundamental mission, is to help people to heal themselves.
The concept of Yekize originated in a research project on mechanisms of the placebo effect. There are several placebo mechanisms, but only one has such consistently high results: the conditioned neuroimmune response.
Research by renowned neuroscientist, Fabrizio Benedetti and others has demonstrated that if patients are given an active drug for several days, they will later respond to a placebo as if it were the active drug. The effects of this are generally short lived, but in some cases, this has been found to make up one third of the treatment programme. Therefore, one third less treatment would be required for the same clinical output. This significant reduction in required medicine, inspired us to explore the potential of neuroimmune conditioning to improve access to medicine in developing countries.
If you can reduce the amount of medication required, you can reduce treatment costs, but also one third more people can be treated with the same stocks of medication. After consideration of the associated ethical conditions, this idea received international recognition at the St Gallen Symposium. Tamsin Nicholson, the founder of Yekize, was listed as a semi-finalist for the Wings of Excellence Award, and got the opportunity to develop the concept in the Marketplace for Ideas, securing a place amongst the top three.
We are currently only in our fledgling stage, just setting out on our journey to improve access to medicine for people in developing countries. So we need as much help as possible to raise awareness and funds for our organisation. We need to obtain funds for the proof of concept study in a rural community in the developing world. But we also welcome anyone who may be able to offer us experience and advice as we progress in the Yekize mission. In particular, we are currently looking out for board members who would be keen to get involved.
At Yekize, we envision a future where treatment is available to all who need it. But before we get to that point, we have a duty to provide people with ways to use their body’s own healing mechanisms to their best advantage. So people can be the healthiest they can be.