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Detecting Trichiasis Using 3D Photography, Launch of WASH toolkit & 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. 
Hoffman et al: 3D Photos for Trachoma
Trichiasis graders (a) practicing grading trichiasis using 3D images, and (b) performing the intergrader 3D image test.

Lymphatic filariasis

Triple drug therapy for lymphatic filariasis launched

Abhishek Choudhari
Times of India
A pilot project to administer triple drug therapy with the triple drug therapy with the long term aim of eradicating lymphatic filariasis was launched in the city on Sunday…Members of World Health Organization (WHO) and ministry of health and welfare (MOHFW) reiterated the grave danger lymphatic filariasis poses to India. Dr. Rashmi Shukla, WHO India’s national programme officer for neglected tropical disease, said the statistics were overwhelming. “Over 40% of worldwide cases are found in India and for this we have to work together so that we can achieve the goal of eradicating this disease,” said Dr. Shukla.

Elimination within reach: A cross-sectional study highlighting the factors that contribute to persistent lymphatic filariasis...

Corrado Minetti et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Despite the progress achieved in scaling-up mass drug administration (MDA) for lymphatic filariasis (LF) in Ghana, communities with persistent LF still exist even after 10 years of community treatment. To understand the reasons for persistence, we conducted a study to assess the status of disease elimination and understand the adherence to interventions including MDA and insecticide treated nets.


Development of a preliminary in vitro drug screening assay based on a newly established culturing system for. . .O. volvulus

Denis Voronin et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
In this study we optimized the culturing system by testing several monolayer cell lines to support worm growth and development. We have shown that the optimized culturing system allows for the growth of the L3 worms to L5 and that the L5 mature into young adult worms. Moreover, these young O. volvulus worms were used in preliminary assays to test putative macrofilaricidal drugs and FDA-approved repurposed drugs.

Patent infections with STH and S. mansoni are not associated with increased prevalence of antibodies to Onchocerca volvulus

Johnny Vlaminck et al.
Parasites & Vectors
Ov16 serology is considered a reference method for Onchocerca volvulus epidemiological mapping. Given the suboptimal sensitivity of this test and the fact that seroconversion takes more than a year after infection, additional serological tests might be needed to guide onchocerciasis elimination programmes. Recently, two linear epitopes encoded in OvMP-1 and OvMP-23 peptides were introduced as serological markers, but the observed antibody cross-reactivity in samples originating from Onchocerca volvulus non-endemic areas required further investigation.


Urogenital schistosomiasis is associated with signatures of microbiome dysbiosis in Nigerian adolescents

Olumide Ajibola et al.
Nature Scientific Reports
In this study, we investigated the impact of S. haematobium infection on the intestinal microbiome of adolescents aged 11–15 years in the Argungu Local Government Area of Kebbi State, Nigeria. As assessed by the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health, Kebbi State has the highest prevalence of S. haematobium infection in the country but a very low prevalence of S. mansoni, making it an ideal location to study impacts of urogenital schistosomiasis specifically.

Prevalence of strongyloidiasis and schistosomiasis among migrants

Archana Asundi et al.
The Lancet
Global migration from regions where strongyloidiasis and schistosomiasis are endemic to non-endemic countries has increased the potential individual and public health effect of these parasitic diseases. We aimed to estimate the prevalence of these infections among migrants to establish which groups are at highest risk and who could benefit from screening...Strongyloidiasis affects migrants from all global regions, whereas schistosomiasis is focused in specific regions and most common among sub-Saharan African migrants. Serological prevalence estimates were several times higher than stool estimates for both parasites. These data can be used to inform screening decisions for migrants and support the use of serological screening, which is more sensitive and easier than stool testing.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Government of Pakistan Launches Deworm Islamabad Initiative

Evidence Action
The Government of Pakistan has initiated the “Deworm Islamabad Initiative,” targeting 570,000 children aged 5-15 in Islamabad who are at risk of infection with intestinal worms, also known as soil-transmitted helminths. Trained school teachers administered free-of-cost deworming medicine (mebendazole), which is universally recognized as a safe and cost-effective treatment. Mass deworming through a school-based approach provides an easy way to achieve high coverage, as trusted, trained teachers administer tablets in schools. Parents were requested to send their children to any nearest government school to get access to safe deworming medicine for their child. Children do not need to be enrolled in that particular school to receive the medicine.

Integrated delivery of school health interventions through the school platform: Investing for the future

Laura Appleby et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
In Ethiopia, prevalent health conditions affecting [school-age children's, or] SAC's education participation and learning outcomes include infection with soil-transmitted helminths (STHs), hunger, and malnutrition. In recognition of the multiple issues affecting the health and education of SAC, the government has taken a proactive approach, coordinating an integrated [school health and nutrition, or] SHN programme designed to be implemented in partnership and monitored and financed through a single, integrated mechanism. The programme, known as the Enhanced School Health Initiative (ESHI), integrates three complimentary health interventions: deworming; school feeding; and provision of a water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) package in schools, which in delivery aim to maximize the benefits of each of the individual components.


3D images as a field grader training tool for trachomatous trichiasis: A diagnostic accuracy study in Ethiopia

Jeremy Hoffman et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Trachomatous trichiasis (TT) will continue to develop among those people who have had repeated infections after active trachoma is controlled. Detecting and treating affected individuals will remain necessary for years; a long “tail” of incident cases is anticipated. As the prevalence of TT declines, there will be fewer cases available for training trachoma graders (TG), necessitating alternative methods.

Supplement: 2017 Global Trachoma Mapping Project

Ophthalmic Epidemiology
As of November 2018, eight countries have achieved validation of trachoma elimination as a public health problem – Cambodia, Ghana, Islamic Republic of Iran, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal and Oman.9 World Health Organisation, Global Health Observatory data repository. The momentum is increasing and for more countries, achieving elimination by 2020 is indeed possible. By providing data on where interventions were most necessary, the [Global Trachoma Mapping Project, or] GTMP sped the trajectory of trachoma elimination. By working closely with Ministries of Health, the GTMP established research infrastructure and capacity. Its work, now largely disseminated with the publication of this special issue, should be commended.

Jigawa, partners offer free eye surgery to 6,500 patients – Official

Vanguard (Nigeria)
The Jigawa government and partners will provide free eye surgery to no fewer than 6,500 visually impaired persons in the state. . . [Dr. Abdurrahman Ashiru, Coordinator of Eye Care and Neglected Tropical Diseases in the state] explained that the beneficiaries would be selected from each of the 287 wards of the state by the trained cases finders. The coordinator added that the gesture would assist persons with trachomatous trichiasis disease regain their lost sights.


WASH and Health working together: a ‘how to guide’ for NTD programmes

World Health Organization
This toolkit provides step-by-step guidance to NTD programme managers and partners on how to engage and work collaboratively with the WASH community to improve delivery of water, sanitation and hygiene services to underserved population affected by many neglected tropical diseases. The toolkit is based on real-life programme experience, which users can match to their needs and local context. It includes a series of tools to help build multisectoral partnerships, mobilize resources, and design, implement and evaluate interventions.

Drugs and vaccines in the 21st century for neglected diseases

Leonardo L G Ferreira and Adriano D Andricopulo
The Lancet
As major public health problems, these diseases are a focus of the WHO Sustainable Development Goals programme, which aims to end the epidemics of tuberculosis, malaria, and neglected tropical diseases by 2030. Other commitments—including the WHO Roadmap on neglected tropical diseases and the 2012 London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases—have established action plans to control, eliminate, or eradicate ten diseases by 2020. A central focus of these agreements is the development of novel therapeutic agents. By incorporating cutting-edge science and technology, drug research and development for neglected diseases have progressed considerably. Nonetheless, a profound gap persists between disease burden and the development of therapeutic assets for such diseases.

Can India lead the way in neglected diseases innovation?

Zakir Thomas, Gautam Kumar Saha, Kappoori Madhavan Gopakumar, and Nirmal Kumar Ganguly
India has successfully eliminated certain infectious diseases—such as guinea worm, trachoma, and yaws—in recent years. Yet, neglected diseases such as leishmaniasis, filariasis, leprosy, snakebite, and soil transmitted helminthic infections still pose a challenge. There persist challenges in the implementation of new technologies and major research gaps. The current model of innovation is driven by market forces and is failing to deliver a steady stream of products that reach patients through adoption into treatment programmes.

WHO Supports Botswana To Strengthen System Operations Towards Malaria And Other Vector Borne Disease Elimination

The Government of Botswana has demonstrated commitment to accelerate malaria and other vector borne disease (VBD) elimination. WHO supported the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW) to develop a draft Integrated Vector Management (IVM) strategic plan 2019-2023. This strategic document is intended to facilitate better planning and implementation of vector control aiming at malaria and other VBDs elimination in the country. . . Botswana has been targeted for malaria elimination by the year 2020. The country has also been targeted for elimination of NTDs by the year 2023. NTDs found and suspected in Botswana, except for leprosy, are vector-borne. Schistosomiasis and trachoma are priority NTDs targeted for elimination.

UNDP and partners launch new initiative for unmet health needs

Sangita Khadka
United Nations Development Programme
Recognizing the urgency of developing new lifesaving treatments for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), malaria and tuberculosis and getting them to people in need, the Government of Japan, the UNDP-led Access and Delivery Partnership (ADP) and the Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund today launched Uniting Efforts for Health, a platform to improve the innovation, access and delivery of medicines, vaccines, diagnostics and other health technologies for unmet health needs in low and middle income countries (LMICs). . . “The January 2019 Global Dialogue is the first step to facilitating more and better collaboration across the range of partners involved in research, development, access and delivery,” said Mandeep Dhaliwal, Director of the HIV, Health and Development Group at UNDP. “If countries are to deliver on the commitments embodied in the 2030 Agenda including to leave no one behind, it is critical that we build and scale innovative partnerships that bring key actors to the table to accelerate progress.”

COUNTDOWN Liberia Ends One-Day Symposium on Neglected Tropical Diseases

Front Page Africa
COUNTDOWN Consortium conducted the meeting recently at the Corina Hotel in Monrovia under the theme: National Dissemination Meeting on Social Science Research on NTDs”. Speaking at the meeting, The Director of COUNTDOWN, Racheal Thomson of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) said that COUNTDOWN remain committed in the fight against Neglected Tropical Diseases elimination and Control in Liberia. Meanwhile, the Social Science Lead, Georgina Kpateh Zawolo said the initiative is aimed at ensuring that NTD is tackled through the collaborated effort of all stakeholders in the country and the research result aim to guide the NTDs Program in Liberia for the implementation of Mass Drug Administration.

2019 CEND symposium recap

Many of the world’s most neglected tropical diseases are caused by helminths. Peter Hotez of the Baylor School of Medicine introduced the third session with a review of the advances made so far in treating these chronic, debilitating diseases. His talk also discussed reverse vaccinology based-approaches to engineering new vaccines, and efforts to address societal concerns raised in the anti-vaccination movement and others. UCSF investigator Judy Sakanari introduced the audience to her lab’s advances in assay development to screen drugs to treat diseases caused by filarial nematodes. The session closed with a focus on the host immunological response to helminth infections by Thomas Nutman from the NIAID, whose work concentrates on dissecting the T cell-mediated responses to these diseases.


Revolutionary sleeping sickness drug approved for use in DRC

Sarah Newey
The Telegraph
A new drug which promises to revolutionise the treatment of sleeping sickness is set to be introduced in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).The drug was approved for use by European regulators in November and was then fast-tracked for approval in endemic countries. This decision means that the drug can be rolled out in DRC immediately.

VIDEO: DR Congo's fight to eliminate sleeping sickness

Elimination is within reach for one of the world’s most neglected and fatal diseases. Approximately 85% of cases of sleeping sickness, or human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), are found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Thanks to a commitment by the Congolese government, collaboration with a consortium of international partners, and utilization of new tools and interventions, we are closer than ever to reaching our goal of eliminating sleeping sickness once and for all.

Takeda’s Dengue Vaccine Candidate Meets Primary Endpoint in Pivotal Phase 3 Efficacy Tria

The Argus-Press
Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited [ TSE:4502 / NYSE:TAK ] (“Takeda”) today announced that the pivotal Phase 3 trial of its dengue vaccine candidate met the primary efficacy endpoint. This first analysis of the Tetravalent Immunization against Dengue Efficacy Study (TIDES) trial showed that the company’s investigational live-attenuated tetravalent dengue vaccine (TAK-003) was efficacious in preventing dengue fever caused by any of the four serotypes of the virus.

A randomized trial of AmBisome monotherapy and AmBisome and miltefosine combination to treat visceral leishmaniasis in HIV. . .

Ermias Diro et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) co-infected patients requires special case management. AmBisome monotherapy at 40 mg/kg is recommended by the World Health Organization. The objective of the study was to assess if a combination of a lower dose of AmBisome with miltefosine would show acceptable efficacy at the end of treatment. . . The extended treatment strategy with the combination regimen showed the highest documented efficacy in HIV-VL patients; these results support a recommendation of this regimen as first-line treatment strategy for HIV-VL patients in eastern Africa.

Poor monitoring impedes leprosy eradication

Verah Okeyo
Daily Nation (Kenya)
Dr [Sultani] Matendechero decries passive surveillance in Kenya, where people are tested and treated only when they go to hospital. “Active surveillance is what we need. If a case is reported, health workers should follow the patient to the village to see if the bacteria has spread," he told the Nation by phone. The World Health Organisation says about 250,000 new leprosy cases have been reported globally since 2005. According to the Health Ministry, Kenya had more than 600 cases in 1986 but just 189 in 2013. However, the true figure may be double, medics say.

Why are so many people still dying from snake bites?

Dr Nick Casewell & Dr Stuart Ainsworth
BBC News
Tens of thousands of people die from snake bites worldwide every year. Lack of treatment and even the wrong medicine mean many of these deaths are preventable...About 11,000 people a month are thought to die from venomous snakebites - similar to the number that died during the whole of the 2014-16 West Africa Ebola crises. A further 450,000 people a year are thought to suffer life-changing injuries such as amputation and permanent disability. The scale of the problem means snake bites are now classed as a priority neglected tropical disease.

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: Neglected Tropical Diseases Data Innovation Incubator

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
National NTD programs rely on timely and quality data to make decisions throughout the duration of the program. The quality of these data ultimately depends on the systems, tools, and processes at the points-of-collection, collation, and analysis at sub-national and national levels. . . This Grand Challenge seeks innovative ideas for how to improve the quality, completeness, and timeliness of routine NTD data and ensure programmatic decision-making is based on the best available data. Such outcomes will help target interventions to all at-risk populations and achieve high intervention coverage and maximal impact on infection and morbidity.

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: MRC/DFID African Research Leader scheme 2019

Medical Research Council
The UK Medical Research Council and the UK Department for International Development announce a further call for proposals for the prestigious African Research Leader awards. This MRC/DFID jointly funded scheme aims to strengthen research leadership across sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) by attracting and retaining exceptionally talented individuals who will lead high-quality programmes of research on key global health issues pertinent to SSA. The African Research Leader (ARL) should be supported by an enthusiastic local research environment and by a strong linkage with a UK partner.

Upcoming Events 

An Introduction to the WASH & NTD Toolkit: An Overview Webinar on the New ‘How To’ Guide for NTD Programmes
February 20, 2019, Webinar
Hosted by WHO and the NNN, this webinar will provide an overview of the purpose and components of the toolkit, respond to questions and clarifications, seek initial feedback and encourage continued use of the tools, documentation and feedback. 

22nd Meeting of the WHO Alliance for the Global Elimination of Trachoma by 2020 (GET2020)
April 9-11, 2019, Maputo, Mozambique 
The purpose is to monitor progress towards elimination of trachoma at global level, exchange information and experience on SAFE (surgery, antibiotics, facial cleanliness, environmental improvement) strategy implementation, review partnership opportunities at global, regional and national levels, and discuss obstacles and barriers to the achievements of the elimination of trachoma as a public health problem by 2020.

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.

WHO AFRO NTD Biennial Programme Managers Meeting
July 15-19, 2019, Location TBA
Please hold the week of July 15, 2019 as the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa will be holding its Biennial NTD Programme Managers Meeting. This meeting will focus on Preventive Chemotherapy and Case Management diseases. We will be in touch soon to confirm the location and share all relevant documents.

11th European Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health
September 16-20, 2019, Liverpool, UK 
RSTMH is hosting the 11th ECTMIH in 2019, on behalf of the Federation of European Societies for Tropical Medicine and International Health (FESTMIH), at the ACC in Liverpool, UK. Every two years, ECTMIH 2019 brings together more than 1,500 scientists and experts from across the world. The Congress provides a platform for sharing research and innovation in the field of tropical medicine and global health.

6th International Symposium on One Health Research
September 18-19, 2019, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
An opportunity for foreign scientists to interact closely with high-ranking Mongolian leaders who specialize in human and animal research leading to numerous research collaborations and discoveries.

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.

Epidemics7: International Conference on Infectious Disease Dynamics
December 3-6, 2019, Charleston, SC
Join us for the Seventh International Conference on Infectious Disease Dynamics to share another three days of intense dialogue on our ideas, data, insight, models and methods. This conference regularly attracts over 400 scientists, with representatives from many of the major research groups in this area worldwide. If you want to meet many of your peers in this field, this is the place to go.