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First Oral Treatment for Sleeping Sickness Recommended & 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. 

Els Torreele, now Executive Director of the MSF Access Campaign, talks about her time at DNDi when her team rediscovered an abandoned compound that showed activity against sleeping sickness parasites. The compound was fexinidazole, which has now become the first all-oral treatment for sleeping sickness.


Lymphatic filariasis

Engaging field staff to achieve greater country impact against neglected tropical diseases

Ashok Moloo
World Health Organization
As part of its focus on prioritizing the needs of countries in their fight against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), the World Health Organization (WHO) is providing customized training to National Professional Officers (NPOs) who are part of country office staff. . . “This is the first such meeting I’ve attended in 10 years,” said Dr Kelias Mysamboza, NPO from Malawi. “It has allowed me to acquire the knowledge and skills I need to take me to the next level and towards the elimination of these diseases of poverty.”

Lymphatic filariasis transmission in Rufiji District, southeastern Tanzania. . .

Clarer Jones et al.
Parasites & Vectors
Control of lymphatic filariasis (LF) in most of the sub-Saharan African countries is based on annual mass drug administration (MDA) using a combination of ivermectin and albendazole. Monitoring the impact of this intervention is crucial for measuring the success of the LF elimination programmes. This study assessed the status of LF infection in Rufiji district, southeastern Tanzania after twelve rounds of MDA.

Perceived threat and benefit toward community compliance of filariasis’ mass drug administration in Pekalongan district. . .

Bagoes Widjanarko, Lintang Dian Saraswati and Praba Ginandjar
Risk Management and Healthcare Policy
This study showed [health belief model, or] HBM variables, ie, perceived susceptibility, perceived severity, perceived benefit, and perceived barrier associated with the medication adherence of [lymphatic filariasis, or] LF. The role of elimination officers was important to increase community knowledge about [mass drug administration, or] MDA program and the benefit to control LF disease.

Malaria department checks for cases of Lymphatic Filariasis in Meerut

Ishita Bhatia
The Times of India
With an aim to eliminate ‘lymphatic filariasis’ in the state under the National Vector Borne Disease Prevention Programme by 2020, not only the Eastern UP districts – where the disease is generally found – but also the Western UP districts have geared up to check for any positive case.


Progress report on the elimination of human onchocerciasis, 2017–2018

World Health Organization
Weekly Epidemiological Record
Currently, 205 million people live in areas that are known to be endemic for onchocerciasis. Many of these people live in areas where there is little risk for onchocerciasis-related blindness or skin disease, as long as mass drug administration (MDA) with ivermectin continues. Four countries have completed the WHO-recommended process for verification of the interruption of transmission of human onchocerciasis, and many others have stopped MDA, completed post-treatment surveillance (PTS) or both in at least one transmission area in their territory.

High prevalence of onchocerciasis-associated epilepsy in villages in Maridi County, Republic of South Sudan. . .

Robert Colebunders et al.
Seizure: European Journal of Epilepsy
In May 2018, a door-to-door household survey was conducted in 8 study sites in an onchocerciasis endemic area in Maridi County. . . A very high prevalence and incidence of epilepsy was observed in several villages in Maridi County located close to the Maridi River and the Maridi dam. Urgent action is needed to prevent children in Maridi County from developing OAE by strengthening the onchocerciasis elimination program.

High Prevalence of Epilepsy in Onchocerciasis Endemic Communities of Ngie. . .

Raphael Awah Abong et al.
International Journal of Tropical Diseases
Epilepsy remains an important but neglected public health problem in many countries. Ngie sub division is endemic for onchocerciasis and the people are highly involved in pig farming and pork consumption. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of epilepsy in Ngie, investigate its association with Taenia solium infection as well as other risk factors.


Schistosomiasis in Malaysia: A review

Candy Chuah et al.
Acta Tropica
This review discusses the central features of schistosomiasis; including clinical manifestations, diagnosis, treatments, and the preventive measures available for the control of this disease. The description of the Malaysian schistosome species Schistosoma malayensis and the current status of schistosomiasis in Malaysia including the compilation of cases diagnosed from 1904 to 2015 are also discussed in this paper.

Schistosomiasis: Snail-vector control, molecular modelling and dynamic studies of bioactive N-acetylglycoside saponins. . .

Bamigboye J.Taiwo et al.
Computational Biology and Chemistry
In South-Western Nigeria, Tetrapleura tetraptera is a tree whose fruit has been widely used in snail vector control. The presence of molluscicidal N-acetyl triterpene glycosides in the fruit has been reported. . . In an attempt to provide mechanistic insight into the observed activity, in silico screening was performed, profiling the molluscicidal N-acetyl triterpene glycosides reported from the fruit against two potential therapeutic targets in the mollusk used, NADH-ubiquinone oxidoreductase (NAD1) and retinoid X receptor.

Interactive online application for the prediction, ranking and prioritisation of drug targets in Schistosoma haematobium

Andreas J. Stroehlein, Robin B. Gasser, Ross S. Hall and Neil D. Young
Parasites & Vectors
The online application developed here represents an interactive, customisable, expandable and reproducible drug target ranking and prioritisation approach that should be useful for the prediction of drug targets in schistosomes and other species of parasitic worms in the future. We have demonstrated the utility of this online application by predicting potential drug targets in S. haematobium that can now be evaluated using functional genomics tools and/or small molecules, to establish whether they are indeed essential for parasite survival, and to assist in the discovery of novel anti-schistosomal compounds.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

The right to deworming: The case for girls and women of reproductive age

Theresa W. Gyorkos et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Girls and women of reproductive age (WRA) bear a large burden of disease from soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections worldwide. This burden is primarily attributable to the anemia caused by hookworm and Trichuris trichiura infections. Together with preschool children (pre-SAC) and school-age children (SAC), WRA are one of the three risk groups most vulnerable to STH morbidity, yet the benefits and opportunities for addressing STH among this group have, until recently, been under-appreciated.


WHO felicitates Nepal for trachoma elimination, rubella control

WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia
Nepal is the first country in WHO South-East Asia to eliminate trachoma as a public health problem, and among the first countries in the Region to be verified for having controlled rubella. The validation for trachoma elimination and verification of rubella control were completed in May and August respectively. . . Nepal has achieved 97% reduction of rubella cases as against a target of 95%, in comparison to 2008, two years ahead of the regional target of 2020 and one year ahead of the national target of 2019.


Integrated Management of Skin NTDs—Lessons Learned from Existing Practice and Field Research

Rie Yotsu
Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease
Integration of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) into the public health agenda has been a priority in global health for the last decade. Because a number of these diseases share not only the geographical distribution, but also a common feature which is skin involvement, bringing together a sub-group of ‘skin NTDs’ is one way forward to promote further integration among NTDs. . . This article summarizes the existing practices and field research on skin NTDs and identifies potential synergies that could be achieved by adopting this integrated approach

USAID launches new neglected disease control program in West Africa

The America government through USAID and in collaboration with the ministries of health in 11 countries has launched a new, five-year $200 million program to control and eliminate five neglected tropical diseases in Sub-Saharan West Africa. This newly launched program deepens USAID’s efforts to eliminate trachoma, lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiasis in 11 West African countries.

WHO steps up efforts to establish Community Based Surveillance in Sudan

With the aim to improve the local health system in Sudan, the World Health Organization (WHO) in joint efforts with Sudan’s Federal Ministry of Health organized a 2-day national training of trainers (ToT) workshop in Khartoum to launch the roll out of community-based surveillance in Sudan (CBS). The system will target 10 states covering more than 7100 villages from rural, inaccessible and remote areas to assist in the early detection of and timely response to common public health threats and suspected communicable diseases.

Cross-border movements, refugee influx escalate NTDs in Uganda

Ninsiima Julian
PML Daily
According to Dr Edridah Muheki, the Assistant Commissioner Health Services in the Vector Control Division under the Health ministry said cases of Sleeping sickness that is almost being eliminated, were presented among refugees who had come from South Sudan. “This year we registered only five cases of Sleeping Sickness, however, two cases that were chronic in nature, came from South Sudanese refugees,” she said.

Moving to a strong(er) community health system: analysing the role of community health volunteers. . .

Vibian Angwenyi et al.
BMJ Global Health
Malawi’s community health strategy, launched in 2017, is a novel attempt to harmonise the multiple health service structures at the community level and strengthen service delivery through a team-based approach. The core community health team (CHT) consists of health surveillance assistants (HSAs), clinicians, environmental health officers and [community health volunteers, or] CHVs. This paper reviews Malawi’s strategy, with particular focus on the interface between HSAs, volunteers in community-based programmes and the community health team.

Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and Partners Launch the Africa Collaborative Initiative to Advance Diagnostics

Insurance News
Recognizing the urgent need to address existing barriers towards advancing the diagnostic agenda in Africa, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), in partnership with the African Society for Laboratory Medicine, Institut de Recherche, de Surveillance Epidemiologique et de Formation, WHO-AFRO, Clinton Health Access Initiative, African Field Epidemiology Network, UNITAID, and other partners have launched the Africa Collaborative Initiative to Advance Diagnostics (AFCAD), to promote the diagnostic agenda in the African region through better coordinated and synergized efforts that align with the priorities of Ministries of Health.

One trend in access to medicines may be cause for concern

Catherine Cheney
Five companies are carrying out 63 percent of the most urgently needed global health research and development projects in the priority areas of malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, Chagas disease, and leishmaniasis. But having just a handful of companies responsible for most of the progress can jeopardize access to medicines, according to the 2018 Access to Medicines index, which was released on Monday.

NNN Conference Report 2018: Addis Ababa

Neglected Tropical Disease NGO Network
Read the report from the NNN's 9th annual conference held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in September 2018. It contains messages from the Chairs, summaries of all 24 workshop sessions, the conference communique, and a summary of participants' feedback.


European Medicines Agency recommends fexinidazole, the first all-oral treatment for sleeping sickness

Pipeline Review
The positive opinion is the result of a 10-year partnership between the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), Sanofi and African partners Fexinidazole will support international efforts to eliminate sleeping sickness, a fatal neglected tropical disease endemic to Africa.

The big sleep: how the world's most troubled country is beating a deadly disease

Sarah Boseley
The Guardian
Beset by war, violence and political instability, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is not the ideal place to be trying to stamp out sleeping sickness, a killer illness. But that is what is happening. . . “If DRC eliminates sleeping sickness, the world eliminates sleeping sickness,” says Dr Victor Kande, former head of the government programme to fight the disease.

Preventing mother-to-child transmission of Chagas disease: from control to elimination

United News of India
The World Health Organization (WHO) is shifting its focus towards active screening of girls and women of childbearing age to detect the presence of Trypanosoma cruzi, the causative parasite of Chagas disease. Recent evidence demonstrates that diagnosing and treating women of this age group before pregnancy can effectively prevent congenital transmission.

Group of students aim to improve malaria diagnosis using old smartphones

Using off the shelf smartphone components, Excelscope is a sustainable, portable diagnostic device that may be able to automatically detect malaria parasites in blood samples. Being a novel, low cost device it doesn’t require expert input, giving it the potential to be accessible, even in the most rural corners of the globe.

Upcoming Events 

The 2018 Global Health Landscape Symposium
November 30, Washington, DC
This one‐day meeting will convene policy and program leads from global health organizations across multiple sectors. It will encourage crucial conversations that drill down on barriers and best practices to address changes in the global health landscape. Speakers and participants will be asked to propose both aspirational ideas and pragmatic solutions for the benefit of people served by nonprofit organizations, for‐profit corporations, and government institutions.

Vector-Borne Diseases in the UK - Biennial Meeting, 2018
December 3-4, Norwich, United Kingdom
This meeting will be the fourth we have held on this topic, with previous meetings in 2012, 2014 and 2016, and like before we will bring together members of the major UK research groups who have an interest in vectors or vector-borne diseases which could be a threat to the UK; groups with wider but related areas of interest; members of key UK Government Departments and their Agencies; and representatives of European organisations with an interest in this topic. 

CDC Center For Global Health, Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria (DPDM) Seminar
December 4, Atlanta, GA 
1:30pm to 2:30pm Roybal Campus, Bldg. 24, Room 1103A
"From High Burden to High Impact: A country led process to get back on track"- Speakers include Pedro Alonso, MD, PhD (Director of the World Health Organization, Global Malaria Programme) and Abdisalan Noor, PhD (Team Lead of the GMP Surveillance Unit)

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.