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Countries Focus Efforts to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis and Onchocerciasis & 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.


Lymphatic filariasis

How Plateau, Nasarawa States eliminated Lymphatic filariasis

Sola Ogundipe
Vanguard Media Nigeria
With support from The Carter Center, the Nigerian’s Federal Ministry of Health and other partners in 2014 issued guidelines (first of their kind in Africa) for a coordinated effort to eliminate both diseases. The guidelines called for shared interventions such as health education, community-based action, distribution of long-lasting insecticidal bed nets, and mass drug administration.

The final lap towards elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis

NK Ganguly
Hindu Business Line
To accelerate the last leg of LF elimination in India, we need to adopt new strategies, such as the use of triple drug therapy and focus on closing implementation gaps in our administration efforts. We look to the National Vector Borne Disease Control Program, Vector Control Research Centre and ICMR to make this a reality.

Race on for zero filariasis by 2027

David Papannah
Stabroek News
It is a race to zero as the Ministry of Public Health and the Pan American Health Organisation have set a goal of eliminating lymphatic filariasis in Guyana by the year 2027. As part of an aggressive five-year strategy, the two agencies through a mass drug administration (MDA) porgramme are distributing filaria-eliminating drugs Albendazole and Diethylcarbamazine citrate (DEC) to citizens across the country.


This New Invention Uses Smartphones to Help Treat Illness Affecting Millions

Paul Ratner
Big Think
Perhaps the test-and-not-treat approach can be a short-lived strategy that lasts only as long as the transmission of L. loa in a community continues to cause high-intensity infections and their accompanying risk of central nervous system adverse events. Perhaps the persons identified as being ineligible for ivermectin treatment through LoaScope testing could be treated immediately by another means to safely reduce their L. loa microfilariae blood counts. Then the mass drug-administration approach to ivermectin distribution might return to the less expensive, more sustainable community-based approach.

Mass Administration of Ivermectin in Areas Where Loa loa Is Endemic

Frank O. Richards
New England Journal of Medicine
The 2015 Nobel Prize in Medicine was shared in part by the discoverers of ivermectin, Donated tablets of ivermectin have been distributed in Africa since 1988 through mass drug administration programs for onchocerciasis, or river blindness (caused by Onchocerca volvulus) and since 2000 for lymphatic filariasis (caused by Wuchereria bancrofti). These vectorborne filarial parasites cause disabling and stigmatizing diseases, especially in impoverished population.

For as long as necessary: examining 30 years of Merck & Co., Inc.’s focus on achieving elimination of onchocerciasis & LF

Kenneth M Gustavsen, Brenda D Colatrella and Theresa McCoy
International Health
The frameworks we use—global health, tropical disease, or international comparisons—continue to shift along with the demographic and economic trends, generally moving away from an implicit division of “the West and the rest.” At the same time, climate change, population growth, and the emergence of new pathogens influence the map of what disease threats demand attention.

Ridding Salone of river blindness

Zainab Joaque
Sierra Leone has joined other African countries to shift the campaign against river blindness (onchocerciasis) from prevention to elimination, largely due to the excellent work of previous control programmes.


Developing new biotechnologies for detecting schistosomiasis parasites in water

Alexander Webb
London Centre for Neglected Tropical Disease Research
In this [Water Infrastructure for Schistosomiasis-Endemic Regions, or] WISER project, we are aiming to develop new technologies for detecting Schistosomes so that we can assess the efficacy of our new water treatment processes. The difficulty with dealing with this family of parasites lies in their life cycle.

Evolutionary epidemiology of schistosomiasis: linking parasite genetics with disease phenotype in humans

Tine Huyse et al.
International Journal for Parasitology
Here we assess the role of parasite genetic variation in host disease phenotype in human schistosomiasis by implementing concepts and techniques from environmental association analysis in evolutionary epidemiology... This putative link between parasite genetic variation and schistosomiasis disease phenotype sets the stage for further functional research.

Schistosomiasis, intestinal helminthiasis and nutritional status among preschool-aged children in sub-urban communities of Abeok

Adebiyi Abdulhakeem Adeniran et al.
BMC Research Notes
This study provides the first report of S. mansoni infection in [pre-school age children, or] PSAC in Abeokuta. Though observed prevalence is low, this is a drawback on control efforts as current estimate might not be reflective of actual infection burden.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Spatiotemporal distribution and population at risk of soil-transmitted helminth infections following an eight-year school...

Mohamad Assoum et al.
Parasites and Vectors
Investigating the effect of successive annual deworming rounds on the spatiotemporal distribution of infection prevalence and numbers at risk for soil-transmitted helminths (STHs) can help identify communities nearing elimination and those needing further interventions. In this study, we aim to quantify the impact of an 8-year mass drug administration (MDA) programme (from 2007 to 2014) on the spatiotemporal distribution of prevalence of STH infections and to estimate the number of school-aged children infected with STHs in Burundi.


Prime Minister hails Central Eye Hospital for eye care efforts

Voice of Vietnam
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has applauded achievements recorded by the Vietnam National Institute of Ophthalmology (VNIO), known as the Central Eye Hospital, especially the efforts made by it and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to eradicate trachoma in Vietnam.

Are Leading Global Causes of Blindness Preventable?

Preeti Paul
Medical News Bulletin
This important study has demonstrated that the most common global causes of blindness are avoidable. The findings of the study indicate the need for collaborative efforts at the global level for increased and improved eye care services. Raising community awareness about preventable blindness and monitoring the utilization of eye health care services will help to slow down the prevalence of avoidable vision impairment and blindness. Urgent action is required to address this largely preventative global health concern.


Kenneth Warren and the Great Neglected Diseases of Mankind Programme: The Transformation of Geographical Medicine in the US...

Patricia Hartge
American Journal of Epidemiology
Conrad Keating’s new biography of Kenneth Warren (1929–1996) traces the long-lasting impact of this colorful scientist, physician, and funder. In 1978, Warren led the Rockefeller Foundation to launch the Great Neglected Diseases of Mankind Programme. The program succeeded for some years and doubtless saved many lives. It captured public attention, stimulated research, and focused-disease control efforts

Health Minister calls on Africa to ensure quality and safe medicines

Christabel Addo and Lydia Asamoah
Ghana News Agency
Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, the Minister of Health, has called for stronger collaboration and networking among African countries, to sustain the momentum for the harmonisation of the processes for medicine registration and regulation to safeguard the health of the people. This, he said, would save the continent of the challenges of having to deal with cross-border transfer of fake medicines and other substandard pharmaceutical products, which have huge negative impacts on health systems as well as on patients.

Neglected Tropical Diseases, Neglected Communities, and Conflict: How Do We Leave No One Behind?

Julie Jacobson and Simon Bush
Trends in Parasitology
With alternative flexible and adaptive approaches, embracing new partners, and empowering communities, we can expand more effectively and efficiently to achieve the control and elimination goals of the NTD programs globally. Innovations in MDA approach and new tools may be critical to success in these most difficult-to-reach populations.

Small Grants, Big Impact: Audio Interview with John Amuasi, ARNTD Executive Director

MacKenzie Bates
"The Small Grants Program is essentially an opportunity for African researchers to do research that they themselves believe is important - an agenda which is set by them, pursued by them. The interesting thing about this, is that it includes the junior researcher component which is really the future generation of African NTD researchers. So, we’re giving them the opportunity to experience what it means to write a competitive proposal, to get a grant, manage it and do the research and come up with the result and publish it, hopefully."

WASH and Eliminate – How evidence-based improved hygiene combats neglected tropical diseases

On November 23, Simavi’s WASH programme officer, Selma Hilgersom, will be attending The International Society for Neglected Tropical Diseases conference (ISNTD Water 2017) in London. She is there on behalf of Sightsavers and Simavi to give a joint presentation focusing on innovative approaches to preventing neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), specifically trachoma.

The Deep-Pocketed Donors Behind the Latest Push Against Neglected Tropical Diseases

Sue-Lynn Moses
Inside Philanthropy
For all the harm they inflict on poor countries—especially in rural areas, urban slums and conflict zones—NTDs have been often "neglected" because those affected by these diseases tend to lack a political voice and have little sway when it comes to research agendas and policy making...Which is one reason why philanthropy's role here is so important.


Why A Brazilian State Went From 0 Cases Of Dengue To 35,000 A Year

Jason Beaubien
For a long time, the residents of Acre State in Brazil were lucky. They lived in the right climate for the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which carries dengue fever. But that mosquito was nowhere to be found, and there were no recorded cases of dengue in the state...Then in the year 2000, Acre recorded its first case of dengue. Ten years later, there were 35,000 cases among a population of under 1 million.

Attitudes towards Chagas' disease in an endemic Brazilian community

Sarah Williams-Blangero, John L. VandeBerg and Antonio R. L. Teixeira
Cadernos de Saúde Pública
The Brazilian Ministry of Health has focused considerable effort on the control of Chagas' disease in the Posse area. The results of our survey indicate that these programs have effectively disseminated information about Chagas' disease and its vector to the at-risk population.

India will miss its deadline to eliminate kala azar by the end of December

Menaka Rao
India will miss its goal of eliminating kala azar by the end of this year. A national advisory committee on kala azar that has surveyed the four states in India where the disease is endemic has found that there are still many new cases of infection, according to a senior officer of National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme. Kala azar, also known as visceral leishmaniasis is a chronic and potentially fatal infectious disease caused by the protozoan parasite Leishmania donovani.

ILEP Partnerships: Leveraging Expertise in Nigeria

American Leprosy Missions has partnered with fellow ILEP member GLRA on a pilot program in Nigeria to improve knowledge and skills of health care workers and communities to identify, treat and manage complications from Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). Using the Ten Steps health guide developed by American Leprosy Missions, health workers, affected people and their families are equipped to manage and prevent disabilities.

Frontline workers push Guinea worm disease to the brink of eradication

Elizabeth Dickinson
When Northern Nigeria was down to its last remaining cases of Guinea worm disease, Dr. Adamu Keana Sallau and his team had to get creative. As the Carter Center director for integrated health programs in the country’s Imo and Abia States in Nigeria, Sallau knew that stigma and far flung geography would made it difficult to spot infections — and every case had to be found to end the disease

The world is off track in its goal to eliminate malaria. Here's why.

Ann M. Simmons
Los Angeles Times
Reasons for the slowdown differed across specific regions and countries, health officials said. But contributing factors included insufficient funding, a lack of interventions to prevent spread of the disease, risks posed by conflict in malaria endemic zones, irregular climate patterns, and the emergence of parasite resistance, the report said.

GSK submits US regulatory application for single-dose tafenoquine for Plasmodium vivax malaria

Simon Steel et al
Medicines for Malaria Venture
GSK and MMV today announced the submission of a new drug application (NDA) by GSK to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), seeking approval of single-dose tafenoquine for the radical cure (prevention of relapse) of Plasmodium vivax (P. vivax) malaria in patients 16 years of age and older. If approved, tafenoquine would be the first new medicine for the prevention of relapse of P. vivax malaria in more than 60 years, potentially addressing the need for a single-dose and effective medicine for this debilitating disease.

Upcoming Events

World Vaccine & Immunotherapy Congress West Coast
November 30 - December 1, San Diego, CA
Following on from the highly successful World Vaccine Congress series in Washington DC and Europe for the past 18 years, the San Diego event will offer learning and business development opportunities taking advantage of the rich biotech and funding environment that the west coast offers.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities
December 3
The annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons was proclaimed in 1992, by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3. It aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

International Volunteer Day
December 5
International Volunteer Day (IVD) mandated by the UN General Assembly, is held each year on 5 December. It is viewed as a unique chance for volunteers and organizations to celebrate their efforts, to share their values, and to promote their work among their communities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), United Nations agencies, government authorities and the private sector.

Helminth Infection - From Transmission to Control
December 7-8, Basel, Switzerland
Swiss Tropical and Public Health Instistute
Swiss TPH Winter Symposium 2017

Human Rights Day
December 10
Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December – the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year, Human Rights Day kicks off a year-long campaign to mark the upcoming 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a milestone document that proclaimed the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being -- regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. It is the most translated document in the world, available in more than 500 languages.

Universal Health Coverage Forum
Dec. 12-14 2017 Tokyo, Japan
The UHC Forum aims to stimulate global and country-level progress towards UHC, including pandemic preparedness, through review of UHC progress at global, regional and country level and sharing of country experiences.

World Vaccine Washington
April 3-5, 2018, Washington, DC
Make sure you are at the forefront of the vaccines industry. No matter where your interest lies, we have content, networking and potential partners for you. By bringing eight events together under one roof, you get to choose the sessions which are the most applicable to help your business plan for the future of vaccine research, development and manufacture.

Multilateral Initiative on Malaria 
April 15-18, 2018, Dakar, Senegal
The Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) was established in 1997 with a mission to strengthen and sustain through collaborative research and training, the capacity of malaria-endemic countries in Africa to carry out research that is required to develop and improve tools for malaria control and to strengthen the research-control interphase.

Eradicate Malaria World Congress 2018
July 1-5, 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.