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The END Fund Awarded Audacious Project Funding for STH and Schistosomiasis & 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.  

Ellen Agler

“The Audacious donor community’s anchor capital will allow the END Fund to push the boundaries of what’s possible: eliminate intestinal worms and schistosomiasis as a public health problem in select geographies in Africa. This catalytic funding will accelerate the progress already taking place across Africa to help ensure that all families, communities and economies can thrive.” - Ellen Agler, END Fund CEO

Lymphatic filariasis

How Kenya’s Fight Against Elephantiasis Is Becoming A Blueprint For Africa

Sultani Hadley Matendechero
It is exhilarating to reflect on where we were at the very start of Kenya’s efforts to tackle [lymphatic filariasis, or] LF and witness the massive turn out for [triple drug therapy with ivermectin, diethylcarbamazine, and albendazole, ofIDA last November, which exceeded our expectations. The initial results indicate this triple-drug approach can be expanded to new areas – meaning that more areas that can shorten the path to LF elimination, and more trained health workers can be freed up to focus on other health issues. This would build on other national strategies for attaining universal health coverage goals and contribute to our momentum and progress in the fight against preventable diseases.

Culex species diversity, susceptibility to insecticides & role as potential vector of LF in the city of Yaoundé, Cameroon

Elysee Nchoutpouen et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Culex species are highly prevalent in both urban and rural settings in Cameroon and are responsible for high nuisance and transmission of pathogens such as Wuchereria bancrofti and arbovirus. Despite the important epidemiological role, that Culex could play, they are still less studied. The current study was conducted to assess Culex species distribution, susceptibility to insecticide and role in W. bancrofti transmission in the city of Yaoundé. . . Culex quinquefasciatus emerged as the most abundant species. Up to 13 different culicine species were recorded. Culex species were recorded to be highly resistant to [dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethan, or] DDT, permethrin and deltamethrin. A high frequency of the West Africa kdr allele was recorded. No mosquito was detected to be infected by [lymphatic filariasis, or] LF.

[PHOTOS] Guyana: Toward Lymphatic filariasis elimination, Dec. 2018

Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)
Lymphatic filariasis elimination: Documentation of remapping/survey in schools in Region II/hinterland.

Up to $24 million will help to eliminate 2 tropical diseases

Tamara Bhandari
Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
Research from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis over the past decade has helped advance a global campaign led by the World Health Organization (WHO) to eliminate two neglected tropical diseases that have left tens of millions of people permanently disabled or disfigured. Now, an international team led by Gary Weil, MD, a professor of medicine and of molecular microbiology – with the assistance of up to $24.7 million in new grant funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – plans to conduct clinical trials and related studies in Africa and Oceania that could help speed the elimination of these diseases as a public health problem


AI could help millions suffering from river blindness

Daniel Herborn
The CEO Magazine
Niramai will build on its existing Thermalytix (thermal imaging) technology and artificial intelligence to develop tools to screen patients for the presence of the live worms that cause River Blindness. The company is based in Bangalore and has a range of proprietary technology incorporating AI, big data and machine learning into breast cancer screening. “We are excited to collaborate with Gates Foundation to extend the application of our innovative technique to areas other than breast cancer,” the company said in a statement. It is anticipated the new screening technology will also provide more detailed information on how effective new drugs being developed to kill the worms have been.

Onchocerciasis Advocacy Document

The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness
This document serves as a framework to address these concerns, identify unique opportunities and alert the international community to the exciting possibility of the elimination of transmission of the disease, but also serves as a wake-up call to the consequences of not continuing the effort. Slowing the momentum would result in disease recurrence, the waste of 40 years of important research, and major stakeholder inputs, creating a major reversal of a public health success.


Female genital schistosomiasis and HIV/AIDS: Reversing the neglect of girls and women

Peter J. Hotez et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Given the high prevalence and incidence of [female genital schistosomiasis, or] FGS and its strong geographic overlap with HIV/AIDS in countries such as Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and elsewhere, it stands to reason that FGS would be identified as a leading HIV/AIDS cofactor in Africa, and that mass drug administration (MDA) with the antiparasitic drug, praziquantel, would represent an important strategy for HIV/AIDS prevention. . .although “preaching to the converted” has helped to unify the [neglected tropical disease, or] NTDs community, it has (so far) done little to stimulate the global HIV/AIDS community toward accepting the importance of praziquantel MDA as a key component of strategies to prevent new infections of HIV/AIDS.

Schistosoma and Other Relevant Helminth Infections in HIV-Positive Individuals—an Overview

Amrei von Braun, Henning Trawinski, Sebastian Wendt, and Christoph Lübbert
Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease
The following review focuses on associations between HIV and selected helminthic coinfections concerning aspects of HIV acquisition and transmission, clinical and immunological findings in co-infected individuals, as well as treatment and prevention efforts. While by no means complete, we aim to offer a concise overview on helminthic infections in HIV-positive patients. . .The associations between HIV and helminthic infections are as heterogeneous as the variety of species and subspecies belonging to this group of parasites. Even though the challenges of coinfections have preoccupied clinicians for over two decades, relevant research questions remain unanswered. Thus, well designed, controlled intervention studies which aim to provide definitive information on the immunological aspects of interactions between HIV and helminths, as well as on optimal type and timing of de-worming in relation to HIV infection, are urgently needed.

Environmental DNA for improved detection and environmental surveillance of schistosomiasis

Mita E. Sengupta et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Accurate detection and delineation of schistosomiasis transmission sites will be vital in ongoing efforts to control and ultimately eliminate one of the most neglected tropical parasitic diseases affecting >250 million people worldwide. Conventional methods to detect parasites in the environment are cumbersome and have low sensitivity. We therefore developed an environmental DNA (eDNA)-based method for schistosome detection in aquatic environments. Aquatic eDNA showed higher sensitivity than conventional snail surveys. We conclude that eDNA is a promising noninvasive and sensitive tool for environmental surveillance of schistosomiasis transmission. As the efforts and aims to control the disease are transitioning toward complete transmission interruption, this could be the robust and cost-effective surveillance tool needed in the “endgame” of schistosomiasis.

Schistosomiasis in the Philippines: Innovative Control Approach is Needed if Elimination is the Goal

Remigio M. Olveda and Darren J. Gray
Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease
An innovative approach is needed in the Philippines if schistosomiasis elimination is the goal. . .A multi-component integrated approach towards the control of S. japonicum in the Philippines is critical for long-term sustainable control and eventual elimination. Key to such an approach is ensuring high [praziquantel, or] PZQ coverage in endemic populations and the targeting of bovines (carabaos) through either their removal and replacement with mechanized tractors in endemic areas or vaccination.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Our Audacious Project

The END Fund
The funding through TED’s Audacious Project will enable us to work with partners and accelerate progress towards elimination of intestinal worms and schistosomiasis as a public health problem in targeted countries in Africa over six years. . . By leveraging drug donations from pharmaceutical companies we can deliver treatment at an average cost of less than 25 cents per child per year. We expect to reach approximately 100 million people in targeted countries in Africa with this initiative. At the same time, we will develop innovative partnerships to integrate water, sanitation and hygiene strategies and work with governments and local partners to build sustainable deworming programs.

New Pediatric Formulation of Janssen’s Treatment for Intestinal Worms Achieves World Health Organization Prequalification

Johnson & Johnson
Solid oral tablets can be difficult for children to swallow, posing a barrier to pediatric treatment. In response to recommendations by the [World Health Organization, or] WHO calling for more child-appropriate formulations of deworming medicines used in donation programs, Janssen developed VERMOXTM CHEWABLE. . . Through Johnson & Johnson’s endorsement of the 2012 London Declaration on NTDs, the company committed to donate 200 million doses of the medicine annually, and to develop this pediatric formulation of VERMOXTM. Following the WHO prequalification announced today, VERMOXTM CHEWABLE will be integrated into the donation program operated by the WHO in limited quantities this year, and in 2020, the program will fully transition from the existing solid tablet to the new pediatric-appropriate formulation.

Challenges and opportunities for control and elimination of soil-transmitted helminth infection beyond 2020

Matthew C. Freeman et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
In this Policy Platform, we lay out critical challenges in seven key areas that need attention, discuss progress until November 2017, and put forward recommendations for immediate action. Our recommendations arose at a critical juncture for [soil-transmitted helminthiasis, or] STH control efforts, as current global policies, goals, and related strategies and resources are revitalized through 2020, a year which is upon us. . . As we approach 2020, work remains to accelerate action to achieve these targets in many places. At the same time, we need to think critically about what is needed beyond the 2020 roadmap and increase efforts in the seven areas discussed in this Policy Platform. This needs to be achieved through active collaboration and coordination by pertinent government ministries, researchers, donors, [the World Health Organization, or] WHO, drug manufacturers, and multisectoral collaboration.


Impact of MDA of azithromycin for trachoma elimination on prevalence and azithromycin resistance of genital Mycoplasma...

Mark Andrew Harrison et al.
BMJ Journals
A single round of azithromycin [mass drug administration, or] MDA in an island population with high baseline M. genitalium prevalence did not appear to impact on either prevalence or azithromycin resistance, in contrast to reported decreased genital [Chlamydia trachomatis, or] CT prevalence in the same population. This may be due to limitations such as sample size, including CT-negative samples only, and low MDA coverage. Further investigation of the impact of multiple rounds of MDA on M. genitalium azithromycin AMR in antibiotic experienced and naïve populations is warranted.

FG Partners Group to End Trachoma

Boade Akinola
PR Nigeria News
The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, has said that partnership and collaboration are essential for delivering the universal eye health strategy in Nigeria. Professor Adewole stated this at the closing ceremony of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust (THE TRUST) yesterday in Abuja. The TRUST is a Trachoma initiative project poised towards the elimination of Trachoma in Nigeria in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health.

"High-Quality Data Has the Power to Bring People Around a Common Goal"

Emily McCormick
Optometry Today
Tropical Data goes beyond mapping the disease and helps countries run standardised smartphone-based surveys to know where trachoma interventions need to be started, continued, or (if successful) stopped. . . When we do surveys, teams are trained up on the methodologies of the survey and use of the smartphones and then sent out for this short-term exercise. For programme work data is collected as part of regular activities. Health facility workers who would usually have to tally MDA data from their areas send totals in over the phone, and surgeons and their assistants who previously filled in paper patient record cards now enter the information into smartphones. . . This hits on something we’ve been concentrating on in all of our programmes – the use of data for decision-making.


WHO launches global consultations for a new Roadmap on neglected tropical diseases

Ashok Moloo
World Health Organization
At its eleventh meeting in 2018, the Strategic and Technical Advisory Group for Neglected Tropical Diseases (STAG-NTD) recommended that WHO initiate a consultative process with the global NTD community to set new targets and milestones beyond 2020 to achieve the health-related 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). . . Endemic countries, implementing partners, donors and stakeholders are invited to provide feedback using the online form during an online consultation (April–July 2019) and to circulate this information to potential stakeholders to facilitate broader, comprehensive feedback.

Mental health, NTDs and universal health coverage: no health without mental health

Julian Eaton
Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (RSTMH)
The field of global mental health has made great progress in developing effective, feasible and cost-effective interventions for mental health in the poorest settings where that are most affected by [neglected tropical diseases, or] NTDs. RSTMH and other organisations concerned with fostering progress in NTD research and services reform can play an important role in facilitating greater collaboration for evidence generation and increased resources. With closer collaboration between the fields of global mental health and NTDs, the mental health needs of people affected by NTDs can be addressed as part of a comprehensive approach to their care, and we can start to genuinely envisage a world with universal health coverage.

Researcher calls for appropriate usage of NTDs terminologies

Maxwell Awumah
Ghana News Agency
Professor David H. Molyneux, Senior Professorial Fellow of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK, has called for appropriate and consistent use of terminologies in the fight against Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). This is because, misuse of terms like eradication and elimination could communicate different meanings and have negative effects on efforts at combatting the diseases.


Malaria: Mass drug administration (MDA) can grant herd protection, according to study

Outbreak News Today
Researchers have provided the first evidence that mass drug administration (MDA) can grant community-level protection against Plasmodium falciparum (P. falciparum) malaria. Their findings, published this week in eLife, suggest that malaria elimination programs intending to use MDA as part of their efforts should approach communities in a way that encourages high levels of buy in and participation.

Hot topics in tropical medicine: Approval of Ivermectin by Health Canada

Andrea Boggild and Antoine Corbeil
On Medicine
The combination of lack of access to ivermectin, increasing immigration from high-risk countries and the ever-expanding use of immunosuppressing medicines, culminated in frequent cases of death due to “hyperinfection” strongyloidiasis across Canada. These occurrences motivated the Committee to Advise on Tropical Medicine and Travel (CATMAT), an external advisory body to the Public Health Agency of Canada, to draft national guidelines on the subject in order to reduce the health risks of strongyloidiasis.

Guidelines issued on injection use to control leishmaniasis

Ashfaq Yusufzai
The World Health Organisation has issued guidelines on utilisation of a consignment of 30,000 injections handed over to health department for treatment of the people infected with cutaneous leishmaniasis to get good results.

Upcoming Events 

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.

The 10th NTD NGO Network (NNN) Conference
September 17-19, 2019, Liverpool, UK 
The chosen theme for the 2019 conference is 'Our vision beyond 2020: many partners, one voice'

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.

ASTMH 68th Annual Meeting
November 20-24, 2019, National Harbor, Maryland
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. 

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. 

11th IAPB General Assembly
October 12-14, 2020, Singapore
The General Assembly will mark the end of the VISION 2020: The Right to Sight period. It will present a great opportunity to take stock, celebrate successes and make plans for the future. A key focus will be on the WHO’s World Report on Vision and its framework for the future. The event will have three co-chairs leading on three streams: “Excellence”, “Eye Health in the West Pacific” and “Sustainability”.