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Association between Podoconiosis and Trachoma Morbidity, Progress on Hookworm and Schistosomiasis Vaccines and Other NTD News

News roundup

This news roundup is a collection of headlines and other items on neglected tropical diseases, and does not reflect the work or the views of the Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center.

It’s About Time To End Neglected Diseases | Ellen Agler
TEDx Talks/YouTube

Lymphatic filariasis

Assessment of lymphatic filariasis prior to re-starting mass drug administration campaigns in coastal Kenya

Sammy N. Njenga et al.
Parasites & Vectors
Prevalence of LF infection is generally very low in coastal Kenya, but there remain areas that require further rounds of MDA if the disease is to be eliminated as a public health problem in line with the ongoing global elimination efforts. However, areas where there was no evidence of LF transmission should be considered for WHO-recommended transmission assessment surveys in view of stopping MDA.

Partnering for impact: Integrated transmission assessment surveys for lymphatic filariasis, soil transmitted helminths and malar

Alaine Kathryn Knipes et al.
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
The WHO has called for the integration of program activities in the field, and the TAS is a platform that allows for such integration. In Haiti the integrated TAS reduced the burden of repeated surveys on communities by minimizing site visits and benefited all three disease programs by sharing the responsibilities of field data collection.


River Blindness Spreading in South and Central Cameroon

Takong Bisong
The Central and Littoral Regions of Cameroon are registered as zones with the highest rate of Onchocerciasis – known as River Blindness – with over fifty to sixty percent cases in most villages. This is due to the poor results recorded during the epidemiological assessment on the impact of the treatment. The minister of Public Health Andre Mama Fouda, during a press briefing to update journalists on the acceleration of the eradication of the disease in the country, on Tuesday, February 21st, revealed.

Rare Disease Mystery: Nodding Syndrome May Be Linked to Parasitic Worm

Francis Collins
NIH Director's Blog
The findings aren’t yet an open-and-shut case. More research is needed to nail down the cause and effect of the infection. But what the evidence does show is once the antibodies attack neurons, the damage is likely permanent. The best way to prevent nodding syndrome is to keep people from becoming infected with O. volvulus in the first place. In fact, efforts to curb the parasitic infection in Uganda with the drug ivermectin (Mectizan®) have already produced a drastic reduction in the incidence of nodding syndrome.


Integrated preventive chemotherapy and WASH for intensified schistosomiasis and soil transmitted helminthiasis control

Suzy Campbell
On Health
To have a more enduring health impact, preventive chemotherapy needs to be augmented with other interventions such as water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) approaches. Recent international meetings (COR-NTD, WHO STH & Schistosomiasis Advisory Committee) have discussed and explored this need as framed within the shift from morbidity control, to elimination of transmission. Currently, evaluation criteria for WASH predominantly focuses on data collected upon two aspects: access to fresh drinking water and installation of appropriate latrines, which overlooks other significant factors of environmental transmission, for example, human water contact behavior and the aquatic biology of the schistosome.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Testing program monitors stability of vaccines for neglected tropical diseases

Over the next decade, a new generation of vaccines for tropical diseases—including schistosomiasis and hookworm—is expected to advance into clinical trials. Already, the Na-GST-1/Alhydrogel Hookworm Vaccine is being tested in Phase 1 studies in healthy adults. These new vaccines are often developed using methods other than conventional inactivation or attenuation of the pathogen so standard vaccine potency testing isn’t applicable.

Schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiasis in Rwanda: an update on their epidemiology and control

Nadine Rujeni, Domenica Morona, Eugene Ruberanziza and Humphrey D. Mazigo
Infectious Diseases of Poverty
Despite Rwanda achieving an almost 100% coverage of this programme in 2008–2010, the transmission of S. mansoni and STHs continues to take place, as illustrated by the most recent surveys. If Rwanda is to achieve sustainable control and elimination of schistosomiasis and STHs, there is a need to revise the country’s control strategy and adopt an integrated control approach that involves a combination of measures.

Warfare on worms in six million children

John Muchangi
The Star
The government [of Kenya] has rolled out a deworming drive targeting six million schoolchildren in 19 counties. The children between age six and 14 will be given eight million tablets donated by two drugs manufacturers to eliminate intestinal worms and bilharzia parasites.


Podoconiosis, trachomatous trichiasis and cataract in northern Ethiopia: A comparative cross sectional study

Helen Burn et al.
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Individuals with podoconiosis have a higher burden of [trachomatous trichiasis, or] TT and worse visual acuity than their matched healthy neighbourhood controls. Further research into the environmental and biological reasons for this co-morbidity is required. A shared approach to managing these two NTDs within the same population could be beneficial.

Improving our forecasts for trachoma elimination: What else do we need to know?

Amy Pinsent ant Manoj Gambhir
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
The ease of eliminating disease within a community assuming the same interventions varied depending on the model structure assumed. Our results highlight that some models of trachoma fit to infection and disease data better than others, but that more data is needed to identify more specific aspects of the model structure. In addition we show that different model structures may give different results in terms of the effort required to control trachoma transmission.

Ethiopia Trachoma Control Program Far Exceeds 2016 Surgical Goal

Kelly Callahan
The Carter Center
In Ethiopia’s Amhara region, the Trachoma Control Program set a goal of assisting in more than 102,000 such surgeries in 2016, by far the highest target we have ever set. I am pleased to let you know The Carter Center and the Amhara Regional Health Bureau exceeded that goal by a stunning 9 percent, assisting in 111,687 sight-saving trichiasis surgeries last year.

Trachoma elimination: Conrad N. Hilton Foundation pledges $12 million for Mali and Niger

Outbreak News Today
In a new pledge of $11.725 million, the Hilton Foundation granted $5.975 million to Helen Keller International, $5.1 million to The Carter Center, and $650,000 to Sightsavers. The organizations work in partnership with the federal health ministries; Helen Keller International and The Carter Center work in both Mali and Niger, while Sightsavers works solely in Mali. Because it requires each organization to match its gift dollar for dollar by 2020, the grant will leverage a total $23.45 million of new funds toward eliminating blinding trachoma in the two West African countries.

Blog: Following Years of Conflict, Central African Republic Resumes Program to Eliminate Trachoma

Genevieve LaCon
The Task Force for Global Health
When we went deeper “into the bush” to observe the MDA in Mongoumba, which borders both the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo, I began to understand just how far my counterparts would go to achieve a trachoma-free world. We were hours from electricity, running water, Internet, and comfortable beds. And yet, they continued to work, advising the distributors on the best strategies and giving educational talks during the distribution.

Smartphone App Tracks Progress Towards Trachoma Elimination in Africa

The Task Force for Global Health
“Tropical Data is a fast and powerful tool for helping us understand changes in prevalence after mass drug administration and other interventions,” said Paul Emerson, PhD, director of The Task Force’s International Trachoma Initiative (ITI). “If we can scale up this technology to more countries, this could potentially help us reach the elimination goal three to five years sooner.” Tropical Data was built on the success of the Global Trachoma Mapping Project that used a similar smartphone-based data platform to map the baseline prevalence of trachoma worldwide.

Supportive Supervision for Trachomatous Trichiasis Programmes

International Coalition for Trachoma Control
This manual lays the foundation supervisors need for engaging and helping trichiasis surgery teams overcome the difficulties encountered in the case finding process, carrying out surgical outreaches and reporting outcomes of surgery. If supervision is to be done properly, supervisors must be part of the solutions to the problems teams are encountering. These are some of the issues addressed in this manual.


DOH eyes end to tropical diseases

Micah Yvana M. Vardeleon
The Manila Times
The Department of Health (DOH) plans to eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) by 2030 as it committed to collaborative efforts with other government sectors...Identified NTDs in the Philippines include leprosy, rabies, schistosomiasis, filariasis, soil-transmitted helminthiasis and food and water-borne diseases. Health Secrerary Paulyn Jean Ubial said “10 out of 28 provinces have reached the goal of eliminating schistosomiasis as a public health problem; 35 out of 45 endemic provinces have eliminated lymphatic filariasis; 41 areas were declared rabies-free and 17 out of 79 surveyed provinces have reduced the prevalence of soil transmitted helminthiasis to less than 20 percent while leprosy maintained the national elimination at less than one per 10 thousand population” as of 2016.

National strategy for implementation and operational research to support prevention and control of tuberculosis, malaria & NTDs

The Access and Delivery Partnership
This strategy document provides a systematic framework to guide the focus of resources and efforts in research activities that investigate the programmatic challenges in the prevention and control of TB, Malaria and NTDs in Indonesia.

A Look At Latest Figures On R&D For Neglected Diseases

Kim Treanor
Intellectual Property Watch
Financing for research and development into so-called neglected diseases – those predominantly affecting lower-income populations – rose recently mainly due to the Ebola outbreak, and private sector contributions represent a bigger share, according to the latest available data from a Gates Foundation-supported database.

Cross-Border Collaboration: Synchronizing Treatment for NTDs in West Africa

END in Africa
Experts believe that improving inter-country cross-border collaboration and synchronizing MDA in border districts can prevent cross-border NTD transmission. Although many African countries already participate in various cross-border collaboration platforms that meet regularly to share information on NTD control, learn from each other’s experiences, and sometimes provide technical support to each other, lack of follow-through in the implementation of meeting recommendations has been a problem, especially in regard to synchronizing mass treatment in border districts.

New WHO Project Aims to Eliminate NTDs in Africa

The Task Force for Global Health
Maria Rebollo Polo, MD, MPH, former director of programs for The Task Force’s Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) Support Center, has been named team leader for the World Health Organization’s (WHO) newly established Expanded Special Project for Elimination of NTDs (ESPEN)...“Maria’s understanding of the problems of NTDs in Africa and her command of the details around how best to approach them are unparalleled,” said Eric Ottesen, MD, director of the NTD Support Center. “Her placement within ESPEN provides a truly extraordinary opportunity for The Task Force and its collaborators to continue to play important roles in meeting the NTD challenges of Africa.”

Global urbanization and the neglected tropical diseases

Peter J. Hotez
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
The findings of significant and serious NTDs in urban areas mean that these diseases will also need to be considered as urban areas and megacities strive to meet their SDGs. Arbovirus infections, leptospirosis, cholera, and typhoid fever, vector-borne parasitic infections such as schistosomiasis, Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, and vivax malaria, and NTD–NCD comorbidities each represent the product of urban planning breakdowns and unchecked growth. Without adequate public health measures and research and development for new drugs, diagnostics, and vaccines, we can expect that these diseases will continue to thwart sustainable urban growth in the coming decades.

END7 aims to raise tropical disease awareness

Rachel Smith
Baylor Lariat
“Our number one goal is to hopefully get more people aware of what NTDs even are,” Yarbrough said. “Another goal is to get people calling their senators. One of the biggest ways people can help is to get the government helping.” [Sophomore Christian] Yarbrough said a large part of END7 is education, and the organization wants people in the U.S. to know about these diseases.


Keys to Success: Partner Collaboration and Buy-In

AIM Initiative
Earlier this month, AIM Initiative staff worked collaboratively with diverse partners in Mozambique to advance mapping efforts, which is the first step in our innovative approach to increase access to case management services for NTDs. Each country is at a different phase of identifying where NTD case management is greatest, with the goal of putting into place plans for targeting integrated health care services to those communities.

Why Europe should lead on fight against disease

Renate Baehr
Politico Europe
To be taken seriously, Europe needs a comprehensive, long-term vision for global health research that sets out priorities for the next decade, backed up by vocal support from Europe’s politicians and investment. The EU’s member countries need to hit their global health research funding target of 0.01 percent of GDP as recommended by the World Health Organization — right now, none are close.

Cost Shouldn’t be a Barrier for Access to Essential Medicines

Dave Ross
The Saporta Report
Drug donation models work well for diseases like those NTDs that can be eliminated through mass treatment of entire populations. People burdened by NTDs cannot afford to buy medicines that prevent and treat these infections. Pharmaceutical companies have recognized their moral and ethical imperatives to donate their products to NTD elimination programs. But these donations can end after these diseases have been eliminated, which ensure that companies don’t have to give away their products indefinitely. The drug donation model, however, is not sustainable for chronic diseases such as hypertension that require people to take medicines for life. Different business models are needed that protect the financial interests of pharmaceutical companies while ensuring medicines are affordable to people who need them.

New Tool Brings Greater Stability to Health Workforce in Mozambique

The Task Force for Global Health
Mozambique – like many African countries – has a shortage of skilled healthcare workers to meet the health needs of their populations. Compounding the issue is a high level of turnover among doctors and nurses assigned to health facilities around the country. The Task Force’s Public Health Informatics Institute (PHII) worked with partners to develop an automated tool for assigning healthcare workers to hospitals and clinics around Mozambique. The tool uses mathematical calculations and algorithms to allocate healthcare workers according to their preferences and the health needs of different communities. In just two years, the tool has reduced reassignment requests by doctors and nurses from 80 to 7 percent.

Podcast: the storied career of Dr. Alan Hinman

Jessica A. Hill
Inform Me, Informatics
This month, the Task Force for Global Health is celebrating the retirement of Dr. Alan Hinman, who has spent more than 50 years working in the field of public health. We here at Inform Me, Informatics want to participate in the celebration, and we’re excited to bring you this conversation with Alan. His career spans domestic and international projects, and has largely been devoted to a vision of a world without vaccine-preventable diseases. I was lucky enough to sit down with him last year to talk about some of his experiences.


6 more positive Zika results returned after DC lab error

Additional Zika virus re-test results are back at DC's Department of Forensic Sciences, and FOX 5 has learned that more have come back positive. This comes after news last week that two pregnant women who were initially told they did not have the Zika virus learned they had actually tested positive. An internal review by the Department of Forensic Sciences found issues with lab testing for the virus between July and December of last year.

To Test Zika Vaccines, Scientists Need A New Outbreak

Carmen Heredia Rodriguez
NPR Shots
"On one hand, you don't want to see outbreaks of infection," says Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "But on the other hand, [without that testing] you might have to wait a long time to make sure that the vaccine works."

Moderna breaks its publishing silence, but can it sell its Zika vaccine?

Damian Garde
In a paper published in Cell on Friday, Moderna’s scientists demonstrated that their mRNA vaccine for Zika virus managed to protect mice against infection. All of the mice on placebo succumbed to the virus after 42 days, while nearly all of the mice who got Moderna’s vaccine survived.

Zika shrinks testicles in mice, study finds

Andrew Masterson
Zika virus not only hangs around in testicles for months after it disappears from the bloodstream, it also shrinks them, new research has found. The fact that the virus can persist in the reproductive system long after its acute phase has passed has been known since 2015, when it was found in the semen of a man who had been infected during an outbreak in French what the researchers termed an unexpected outcome, by 21 days after being infected the mice had testicles “significantly smaller” than healthy controls, and were experiencing “progressive testicular atrophy”.

Upcoming Events

International Women's Day 
March 8
For International Women's Day 2017, we're asking you to #BeBoldForChange. Call on the masses or call on yourself to help forge a better working world - a more gender inclusive world.

Tips for Submitting Successful Abstracts for the Annual Meeting
March 8, Webinar
American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene
Tips and techniques for writing a high-quality abstract that will help you present your topic accurately, and clearly convey important facts to the reviewers. This webinar is designed for researchers who want to improve their abstract-writing skills for the 2017 Annual Meeting, and a for a lifetime career.

How to End a Plague: Smartphones, Science, & Partnerships
March 11, Austin, TX, USA
SXSW Interactive Festival 
During this panel discussion, experts and a representative from a country affected by blinding trachoma will explain how smartphones, science, and partnerships are being used to end the disease by 2020. They also will discuss the potential application of this approach for eliminating other diseases.

IEC & Social Mobilization Tool Kit: Overview and Practical Experience from Ethiopia
March 15, Webinar
Geordie Woods will provide an overview of the new IEC & Social Mobilization NTD Tool Kit, which leads users through a step-by-step process to systematically review, revise, develop and adapt current IEC materials and social mobilization approaches towards stronger, evidence-based practices in support of positive behavior change for MDA programs in the control of NTDs.

March 21, London, UK
The International Society for Neglected Tropical Diseases
Developing partnerships & strategies in vector control

Molecular Helminthology: An Integrated Approach
March 19-22, Cape Cod, MA, USA
The conference is designed not just to present the recent findings in the field of molecular helminthology but also to take advantage of the remarkable advances anticipated and occurring in the field.

World Water Day
March 22
UN Water
Each year, UN-Water — the entity that coordinates the UN’s work on water and sanitation — sets a theme for World Water Day corresponding to a current or future challenge. The engagement campaign is coordinated by one or several of the UN-Water Members with a related mandate.

Towards Elimination of Schistosomiasis in Cameroon 
March 22-23, Yaounde, Cameroon
SCH Control Program
This conference is the premier gathering in Cameroon for all stakeholders working to overcome the impact of schistosomiasis. It will bring together scientists, experts, donors, policy makers, non-governmental development organizations and students from all over the world to share and learn from each other's experiences and perspectives. The conference will provide a platform to discuss progress, challenges and strategies in shifting from a morbidity control approach to elimination of schistosomiasis. The structure of the conference consists of plenary presentations, panel-led discussions, group work and poster sessions. 

Solutions for Drug-Resistant Infections  
April 3-5, Brisbane, Australia
The University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience Centre for Superbug Solutions
SDRI 2017 is a multi-disciplinary scientific conference for the Asia Pacific region focused on Solutions for Drug-Resistant Infections. This inaugural conference theme is New Drugs for Drug-Resistant Infections. 

Chagas Roundtable
April 6, Washington, DC, USA
The International Society for Neglected Tropical Diseases
Register your interest to be involved at ISNTD's Chagas Roundtable in Washington D.C., Water 2017 or the ISNTD Festival.

World Health Day
April 7
World Health Organization
World Health Day, celebrated on 7 April every year to mark the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization, provides us with a unique opportunity to mobilize action around a specific health topic of concern to people all over the world. The theme of our 2017 World Health Day campaign is depression.

Healthy People, Healthy Ecosystems: Implementation, Leadership & Sustainability in Global Health
April 7-9, Washington, DC
Consortium of Universities for Global Health
Join more than 1,700 global health faculty, student, implementers and leaders from over 50 countries to explore the latest in global health, planetary health, and the role universities play in addressing global health challenges.

World Vaccine Congress 2017
April 10-12, Washington, DC
The 17th Annual World Vaccine Congress is the place where the global vaccine industry meets to discuss commercial and scientific issues around regulation, strategy, manufacturing, trials, partnering, influenza, cancer, emerging diseases and veterinary vaccines.

27th Annual Molecular Parasitology & Vector Biology Symposium
April 27, Athens, Georgia
Center for Tropical & Emerging Global Diseases
This year's Keynote Address will be by Dr. Rick Fairhurst from the NIAID Malaria Pathogenesis and Human Immunity Unit. This symposium provides an opportunity for participants in the parasitology and vector biology programs at the University of Georgia and other regional institutions to gather for a 1-day interactive conference on parasites and host/parasite interactions.

Solutions for Drug-Resistant Infections  
April 3-5, Brisbane, Australia
The University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience Centre for Superbug Solutions
SDRI 2017 is a multi-disciplinary scientific conference for the Asia Pacific region focused on Solutions for Drug-Resistant Infections. This inaugural conference theme is New Drugs for Drug-Resistant Infections. 

World Health Summit Regional Meeting - North America
May 8-9, Montréal, Québec, Canada
Université de Montréal + Institut de recherches Cliniques de Montréal
The world leaders in global health will be attending this prestigious event, including over 800 researchers, doctors, industry leaders, decision-makers, government members and civil society actors from around the world. Based on the theme of “Health and Healthcare Delivery in Pluralistic Societies,” this interdisciplinary event will focus on the question of human diversity in the practice, education, research and public policy pertaining to health.

May 16-17, London, UK
The International Society for Neglected Tropical Diseases
ISNTD d3 will bring together experts from within drug discovery and clinical trials to drive the debate and foster new partnerships & alliances leading to tangible outcomes in terms of new therapies to combat these diseases.

Vector Borne Disease 5 Day Workshop
May 22-26, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The MENTOR Initiative
The MENTOR Initiative is now delighted to be able to offer a new training course designed specifically to strengthen the capacity of agencies to implement effective and coordinated vector borne disease control activities, either as a focus or as part of broader disease control activities.

Antimicrobials and Drug Resistance
May 30-June 1, Las Vegas, USA
Antifungal and antiparasitic are class of medication for pharmaceutical fungicide or fungistatic used to treat and prevent mycoses and treatment of parasitic diseases, such as those caused by helminths etc, respectively. Invasive fungal infections causes significant health problem in immune compromised patients.  So as the clinical manifestations vary and can range from colonization in allergic broncho pulmonary disease to active infection in local aetiologic agents. Therefore drug dose monitoring is necessary to ensure the therapeutic levels achieved for optimal clinical efficacy.

Update Course in Clinical Tropical Medicine and Travelers' Health
June 14-15, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
ASTMH has developed this course as an update in the essential components of tropical medicine and travelers' health. This two-day meeting is designed for physicians and for all other health care providers working in tropical medicine or travelers' health. Speakers are internationally recognized authorities in the field. 

Health Systems Summer Institute
June 12-23, Baltimore, Maryland
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
The new Health Systems Summer Institute provides early- and mid-career public health professionals the skills necessary to address key health systems issues of today. The Institute is also a great opportunity for part-time MPH and other Hopkins students and fellows to learn a valuable set of skills in an in-demand, and rapidly growing field of public health.

The 7th International Lymphoedema Framework Conference
June 21-24, Siracusa, Sicily, Italy
The ILF 2017 Conference will gather practioners, researchers, affiliates and stakeholders from all over the world.
It is thus a great opportunity to present your knowledge to a multi-stakeholder audience.

ASTMH 66th Annual Meeting
November 5-9, Baltimore, Maryland
American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
The ASTMH Annual Meeting draws tropical medicine and global health professionals representing academia, government, non-profits, philanthropy, NGOs, industry, military and private practice. The meeting is designed for researchers, professors, government and public health officials, military personnel, travel clinic physicians, practicing physicians in tropical medicine, students and all health care providers working in the fields of tropical medicine, hygiene and global health. 

Eradicate Malaria World Congress 2018
February 18, 2018, Melbourne, Australia
The inaugural World Congress on Malaria - Eradicate Malaria 2018 - will bring together the broad global community including implementers, scientists, funders, governments, policy makers and those directly affected by the disease. The aim is to bring the broad spectrum of the malaria world together for the first time, to further galvanise the effort for the eradication of malaria.