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$150 Million in Funding for Neglected Tropical Disease Treatment and Prevention Announced at Global Citizen & 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. 

Precious Mukelabai

Zambian community health worker Precious Mukelabai on stage at Global Citizen Mandela 100 festival in Johannesburg, South Africa on December 2 2018. Precious travelled outside Zambia for the first time to speak to Global Citizens about blinding trachoma surgery in her village in eastern Zambia.


Lymphatic filariasis

Backpack PCR: A point-of-collection diagnostic platform for the rapid detection of Brugia parasites in mosquitoes

Weam I. Zaky et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Here we present a novel diagnostic approach for molecular xenomonitoring of filarial parasites in mosquitoes that uses a rapid, NaOH-based DNA extraction methodology coupled with a portable, battery powered PCR platform and a test strip-based DNA detection assay. While the research reported here serves as a proof-of-concept for the backpack PCR methodology for the detection of filarial parasites in mosquitoes, the platform should be easily adaptable to the detection of W. bancrofti and other mosquito-transmitted pathogens.

Identification and characterization of Loa loa antigens responsible for cross-reactivity with rapid diagnostic tests for LF

Marla I. Hertz et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
The Global Program to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) relies on rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) to determine where annual mass drug administration for LF is required and when it can be stopped. These tests detect a Wuchereria bancrofti glycoprotein in the blood of infected persons via a carbohydrate moiety recognized by the monoclonal antibodies AD12 and DH6.5. Loiasis cross-reactivity with LF RDTs has recently been recognized as a serious obstacle to LF elimination in loiasis-endemic areas. To better understand the nature of this cross-reactivity, we used the DH6.5 antibody to immunoaffinity purify Loa loa antigens from the sera of individuals with a positive RDT due to loiasis.


[VIDEO] Australian of the Year: Mark Sullivan, founder and managing director of MDGH

ABC Australia
After years of fundraising, research and development, MDGH was the first Australian biopharmaceutical company to receive FDA approval for a new drug, moxidectin. The medicine treats river blindness, a debilitating illness affecting 20 million people in sub-Saharan Africa. . . The drug may also be an option for the 1.5 billion people affected with other neglected tropical diseases. Just as importantly, Mark has developed a highly effective new business model for developing much-needed new medicines.


Effect of Artemisia annua and Artemisia afra tea infusions on schistosomiasis in a large clinical trial

Jérôme Munyangi et al.
Schistosomiasis (bilharzia), a serious neglected tropical disease affecting millions, has few cost-effective treatments, so two Artemisia wormwood species, A. annua and A. afra, were compared with the current standard praziquantel (PZQ) treatment in an 800 patient clinical trial, August-November of 2015.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Chevron begins ‘deworming’ of 45,000 schoolchildren in Delta

Theophilus Onojeghen
Punch (Nigeria)
The wife of the Delta State Governor, Mrs. Edith Okowa, has inaugurated the 2018 Chevron-sponsored ‘deworming’ exercise for 45,000 schoolchildren in Warri North and South local government areas of the state. The scheme is part of Chevron’s corporate social responsibility activities in the area. Speaking at the ceremony in Warri, the General Manager, Policy, Government and Public Affairs in Chevron, Esimaje Brikinn, said more than 1.5 billion people around the world were infected with soil-transmitted helminth infections.

Predicted short and long-term impact of deworming and water, hygiene, and sanitation on transmission of STH

Luc E. Coffeng et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Regular preventive chemotherapy (PCT) targeting high-risk populations is an effective way to control STH in the short term, but sustainable long-term STH control is expected to require improved access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). However, experimental studies have not been able to conclusively demonstrate the benefit of WASH in preventing STH (re-)infections. We investigated the impact of WASH on STH infections during and after PCT using mathematical modelling.


Sightsavers: $105 Million Disease Fund Launched at Star-studded Nelson Mandela Concert

Katya Mira
PR Newswire
Massive progress has been made by governments, donors and international organisations but more support is needed to end trachoma entirely – so the new fund should take elimination over the finish line. This latest step was announced by Richard Branson, via recorded video link, at the star-studded Global Citizen concert in Johannesburg on Sunday 2nd December. He represents a collaboration of funders who are launching The Accelerate Trachoma Elimination Programme – which is led by the charity Sightsavers and includes the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), The ELMA Foundation UK, UK aid and Virgin Unite. It builds on an announcement made by the UK government in April 2018 to boost elimination efforts through the Commonwealth 2018-2020 Fund.

A century on, Hadassah’s ophthalmology department sees a global impact

The Times of Israel
The disease [trachoma] was a major catalyst for the 1912 founding of Hadassah, and indeed, in 1913 — only one year after the organization got its start — the women’s organization had already dispatched two American nurses to help fight child blindness, along with other pressing issues. Soon, with the regular application of eye drops shortly after childbirth, trachoma was effectively eradicated in Israel.


Millions Of Dollars For Neglected Tropical Diseases Announced At Star-studded Mandela Concert

Mark Doyle
Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases
Leading philanthropists as well as African and European governments have announced more than US$150m to tackle neglected tropical diseases largely unknown in western countries, but which affect 1.5 billion people – or one in five on the planet. The over $150m funding will unlock a total aid package worth many, many more times that sum thanks to the free donation of medicines from pharmaceutical companies. The announcements to fund the prevention and treatment of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) were made at a star-studded festival in Johannesburg, South Africa, co-hosted by the Government of South Africa, the House of Mandela, Motsepe Foundation, and the activist network Global Citizen.

No To Neglected Tropical Diseases
At the first Galien Forum Africa, held on November 27-28, the policy and advocacy action tank, Speak Up Africa launches a multisectoral platform designed to accelerate the elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in Africa. . . The “No to NTDs” movement will strengthen the capacity and skills of [civil society organizations] CSOs for advocacy towards the acceleration of the control and elimination of neglected tropical diseases.” stated Yacine Djibo, Executive Director of Speak Up Africa.

Organization of oversight for integrated control of neglected tropical diseases within Ministries of Health

Claire Standley, Matthew R. Boyce, Anna Klineberg, Gabrielle Essix and Rebecca Katz
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are communicable diseases that impact approximately 1 billion people, but receive relatively little research, funding, and attention. Many NTDs have similar treatments, epidemiology, and geographic distribution, and as a result, the integration of control efforts can improve accountability, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness of programs. Here, we examine the landscape of efforts towards NTD integration across countries with the highest burden of disease, and review the administrative management of integration in order to identify approaches and pathways for integration.

Reaching people “beyond the end of the road”

Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases
Dr Mwele Malecela, a health scientist from Tanzania, is taking up a leading position at the World Health Organization (WHO). We met her as she was transitioning into her new position at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. . . “The most important thing is that these diseases affect the poorest of the poor. And one thing that brings votes is lifting people out of a cycle of poverty. If you plan to help the poorest of the poor – the people, to coin a phrase, who are ‘beyond the end of the road’ – the return on your investment is great….you can change the course of your nation.”.


Together for Zero: Coordinated Research Required to Achieve Zero Disease, Disability, and Discrimination from Leprosy

Theresa Millare
For the last 30 years, leprosy has been contained by a multi-drug therapy, an intervention that consists of three antibiotics (Dapsone, Rifampicin and Clofazimine) that kills the pathogen and halts further disease progression. However, there has been no decline in the number of annually reported cases for the past decade, which suggests that more needs to be done to achieve zero leprosy. The scientific community is reimagining collective action. Enter the Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy, who led collaborative discussions on the topic at the 2018 COR-NTD meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Guinea Worm Researchers Meet in Seattle

WHO Collaborating Center for Dracunculiasis Eradication, CDC
Guinea Worm Wrap-Up
Among recent research findings of potential immediate use to programs for targeting Abate applications are GPS tracking data by Prof. Robbie McDonald’s group from the University of Exeter indicating that ponds within 200 meters of households with dogs in Chad are only a small fraction of all ponds but comprise the vast majority of dog visits, and similar data by the same group illustrating specific forest sites visited by dogs from villages of highest concern in Ethiopia. Epidemiologists led by Dr. Sharon Roy from CDC have confirmed ingestion of raw fish guts as an important risk factor for Guinea worm infections of dogs in Chad, while Dr. Elizabeth Thiele and her colleagues at Vassar College and CDC have used genetic data to trace intra- and intergenerational lineages of Guinea worms in Ethiopia, and Dr. Michael Yabsley and Christopher Cleveland of the University of Georgia have shown that fish can serve as transport hosts and frogscan serve as paratenic hosts for Dracunculus species.

Dr. Corinne Schuster-Wallace (University of Saskatchewan): creating an index to map vulnerability to dengue

Marianne Comparet
Infectious Thoughts
Dr. Corinne Schuster-Wallace is currently a water-health researcher within the Global Water Futures program and an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. . . In this Infectious Thoughts interview, we ask Dr. Corinne Schuster-Wallace about recent work integrating a range of social, biophysical and health data sets to develop the Water Associated Disease Index (WADI) and how this tool can help accelerate the prevention and control of dengue.

Dr. Rachel Lowe (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine): modelling the impact of global environmental change on dengue

Oghogho Orife
Infectious Thoughts
Dr. Rachel Lowe is Assistant Professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Visiting Assistant Research Professor at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health—she is currently working at the interface of climate prediction science and public health decision-making. . . In this Infectious Thoughts interview, we speak with Rachel Lowe about her thoughts on the health impacts of climatic events and what this means for neglected tropical diseases.

Opening up mosquito research labs to the community

Brook Muller
The Conversation
Could people walk through protective enclosures alongside or within “mosquito cities,” large spaces of experimentation that are open-air yet netted and that include trees and other outdoor elements allowing controlled study of mosquito populations in quasi-natural conditions? Could spaces be included that help people understand how to modify their homes to decrease chances they will get bitten? What about recreational spaces such as the tennis court that Okumu hopes to build at Ifakara as a way to make [Ifakara Health Institute's, or] IHI’s research a part of everyday community life? These are some of the questions we are addressing as part of the Protective Atmospheres project.

Upcoming Events 

Let's talk: How the Community Dialogue Approach Helps Communities to Achieve Better Health
December 13, Webinar
To mark Universal Health Coverage day, Malaria Consortium will host a webinar that explores the role of social and behaviour change in improving health in low and middle-income settings. We will discuss the Community Dialogue Approach as a form of meaningful community engagement which has triggered behaviour change in different countries and across a range of health issues. The webinar will be hosted by Malaria Consortium Project Manager Christian Rassi and Social and Behaviour Change Communication Specialist Lauren Smith, with an introduction by Global Technical Director James Tibenderana. Sandrine Martin will share learnings from Mozambique. 

Women Deliver 2019 Conference 
June 3-6, 2019, Vancouver, Canada
The Women Deliver 2019 Conference – the world’s largest gathering on the health, rights, and wellbeing of women and girls – will serve as a fueling station for advocates working to achieve a more gender equal world. In the summer of 2019, over 6,000 world leaders, influencers, advocates, academics, activists, and journalists will flock to Vancouver with dreams of accelerating progress girls and women everywhere.

IAPB Council of Members 2019
October 5-8, 2019, Nairobi, Kenya
The next Council of Members will be held 5-8 October 2019 in Nairobi, alongside local partners Sightsavers.