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Francophonie Resolution Adopted, New WHO NTD Director Named & 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.


Eye surgeon Bruno Kandei is used to getting his car out of the mud when trying to get to rural areas


Lymphatic filariasis

Outbreak News This Week Radio Show 10-14-18

Robert Herriman
Outbreak News Today
It’s always great to report on successes we have in the battle against infectious diseases and I could report on one out of Vietnam. In the second half, I look at the WHO announcement that Vietnam and the Pacific islands of Palau and Wallis and Futuna eliminated lymphatic filariasis as a public health problem.

Transgenics have come to FR3!

Tom Unnasch
NIAID/NIH Filariasis Research Reagent Repository Center
We want to announce that after over 20 years of trying, we have finally developed a method for efficient stable integrative transfection for Brugia malayi! The breakthrough was co-culturing the L3 through the L4 molt in the presence of BESM cells.

Quantifying the value of surveillance data for improving model predictions of lymphatic filariasis elimination

Edwin Michael et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
We report on the development of an analytical framework to quantify the relative values of various longitudinal infection surveillance data collected in field sites undergoing mass drug administrations (MDAs) for calibrating three lymphatic filariasis (LF) models (EPIFIL, LYMFASIM, and TRANSFIL), and for improving their predictions of the required durations of drug interventions to achieve parasite elimination in endemic populations. Such best data-informed models may also produce more accurate predictions of the durations of drug interventions required to achieve parasite elimination.


Substantiating freedom from parasitic infection by combining transmission model predictions with disease surveys

Edwin Michael et al.
Nature Communications
We highlight a possible method for validating the results in the field, and discuss further refinements and extensions required to deploy this predictive tool for guiding decision making by programme managers.


Schistosomiasis Burden and Its Association With Lower Measles Vaccine Responses in School Children From Rural Cameroon

Justin Komguep Nono et al.
Frontiers in Immunology
The effects of [mass drug administration] MDA and the impact of schistosomiasis on the titers of antibodies in vaccinated children have been poorly studied. We therefore assessed the prevalence of schistosomiasis in schoolchildren, eight months after MDA, in two locations: Barombi Koto (BK), endemic for S. haematobium (N = 169) and Yoro (Y), endemic for S. mansoni (N = 356). Age, gender, residence time and frequency of contact with river water were assessed as risk factors for infection and morbidity in both localities

The design of schistosomiasis monitoring and evaluation programmes: The importance of collecting adult data to inform treatment

Jaspreet Toor et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Our results highlight the importance of collecting data from a broader age-range, specifically the inclusion of adult data at baseline (prior to treatment) and throughout the treatment programme if possible. Improving M&E programmes to incorporate collection of such data will allow for more accurate determination of the optimal treatment strategy for a defined region.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Impact assessment for mass drug administration

Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation
In 2012 the government introduced the mass drug administration programme in schools and will this month be conducting an impact assessment for the mass drug administration against bilharzia and intestinal worms said Dr Portia Manangazira, the Director for Epidemiology and Disease Control in the Ministry of Health and Child Care.

Kick-off Meeting for STOP, a Project that Seeks to Interrupt the Transmission of Intestinal Parasites

ISGlobal, Barcelona Institute for Global Health
This project addresses two pitfalls in the current strategy: albendazole’s suboptimal efficacy, and the risk of developing resistance to the drug,” explains the project coordinator Jose Muñoz, ISGlobal researcher and Head of Tropical Medicine at Hospital Clinic. The STOP consortium proposes adding ivermectin to the treatment in order to increase the efficacy against the different types of parasitic worms and reduce the possibility of resistance by using two different drugs.


Trachoma: Senegal's struggle to contain the disease

Nicolas Haque
Al Jazeera
Trachoma is the world's leading cause of blindness and has struck almost 200 million people around the world. Most of those suffering from this curable disease are in sub-Saharan Africa. Despite medicine and preventive measures, Senegal is struggling to contain the disease.

This Doctor Has Spent His Life Studying the World's Leading Cause of Preventable Blindness

Diana Duong
Global Citizen
You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in the world more dedicated to eliminating trachoma than Dr. Wondu Alemayehu. The researcher, based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, has spent his entire life studying the disease, which is the world’s leading cause of infectious blindness. . . "My god, the level of trachoma that I observed. We published a paper and people [who read it] saw the rate of it but could not believe the magnitude of the problem — but it was all true," Alemayehu told Global Citizen.

Flying Eye Hospital Celebrates 20 Years of Eye Care in Ethiopia this World Sight Day

Silvana Vivas
Longview News-Journal
The Orbis Flying Eye Hospital—the world's only U.S.-accredited teaching hospital on board an MD-10 aircraft—has returned to Addis Ababa to conduct a three-week training project from October 1 - 19, 2018, invited by the Federal Ministry of Health and in partnership with the Ophthalmological Society of Ethiopia (OSE). Hosted by the Department of Ophthalmology, Addis Ababa University at Menelik II Referral Hospital (Menelik), the Flying Eye Hospital project is also an opportunity to celebrate 20 years of eye health development and partnership in Ethiopia and World Sight Day.

Optimising sampling regimes and data collection to inform surveillance for trachoma control

Amy Pinsent and T. Dèirdre Hollingsworth
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
The WHO is aiming to eliminate trachoma as a public health problem by 2020, however at low prevalence levels the relationship between infection and disease prevalence is non-linear, making the interpretation of data from the two diagnostic tests challenging. However, it is hard to know if this is an expected outcome or a biological inconsistency. Sero-surveillance is being considered as an additional tool to understand transmission when infection and disease prevalence data provide different information.


WHO appoints new Director for the Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases

World Health Organization
Dr Mwelecele Ntuli Malecela has been appointed as the new Director of the WHO Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases. Until her appointment, Dr Malecela was Director in the Office of the Regional Director, WHO Regional Office for Africa in Brazzaville, Congo where she provided policy, managerial and diplomatic advice to the Regional Director, coordinated and facilitated the plan of work for all units under the Cluster, and monitored the implementation of policy decisions of WHO governing bodies.

Regional health leaders in Western Pacific vow to eliminate neglected diseases

Xinhua NET
The region has seen remarkable progress in combating NTDs in recent years, according to the WHO in a statement. The WHO said the new Regional Framework for Control and Elimination of NTDs in the Western Pacific, endorsed by the health leaders, will build on these achievements and strive to end the scourge of NTDs in the Western Pacific. The delegates also endorsed the Regional Action Framework on Improving Hospital Planning and Management in the Western Pacific.

Neglected tropical diseases, HIV remain silent killers in PHL

Cai Ordinario and Marc Dela Paz
Business Mirror (Philippines)
WHO said the NTD Unit at the Disease Prevention and Control Bureau of the Department of Health Philippines convenes the NTD Stakeholders Forum annually to bring together all stakeholders working on elimination and control of NTDs ranging from relevant ministerial partners. . . The forum provides a valuable opportunity to update progress of control and elimination of NTDs in the country and research gap, share various best practices to improve advocacy on NTDs, recognize and forge the existing partnership and explore other possible collaboration opportunities to advance the NTD agenda in the country.

More resources needed to fight against neglected tropical diseases - Health experts

Jessica Ahedor
Health experts are urging governments in the sub-Saharan Africa to commit more resources in the fight against Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). This move will also lessen economic burden because NTDs render the affected people unproductive. . . These pathogens including viruses, bacteria, protozoa and helminths. According to the experts attending 11th DNDi Conference held in Kampala, Uganda, sleeping sickness, elephantiasis, river blindness, Kalazar, mycetoma, Peadiatric HIV and microbes that are resistant to drugs are all part of neglected diseases.

Failing Forward: Learning from neglected tropical disease programs

Katie Zoerhoff
Learning Lab
Across the 19 countries supported by ENVISION, around 95% of the districts pass these surveys – but sometimes they fail. While we think that’s a pretty great record with more than 625 districts passing a TAS, disease elimination requires a perfect score, an A+. When they pass, we know that the population in those districts no longer needs treatment, a critical milestone on the way to elimination. When districts fail, it’s a signal that something needs to change. So, how do we respond and adapt to these failures?

Celebrating Africa's aid workers on the frontline

Mark Doyle
Life on the humanitarian frontline is not as you know it, says former BBC journalist Mark Doyle, who now works in the aid sector and gives his personal view on the job done by aid workers in Zambia. . . After a two-day journey, team leader Mr Ntitima and Dr Kandei finally reached the small rural clinic where their patients were waiting. The cars carrying the dozen or so patients had also got stuck on rough tracks several times. But now everyone was in the right place for the surgery to take place.


“Huge Step Forward” for Health in the Francophonie

Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases
Today, 57 countries committed to eliminating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) through the adoption of a resolution at the XVIIIe Summit of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF, or International Organization of the Francophonie).Widely supported by civil society organizations across the Francophone space, this resolution commits member states to promoting and reinforcing the fight against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in the Francophone community.

The role of case proximity in transmission of visceral leishmaniasis in a highly endemic village in Bangladesh

Lloyd Chapman et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Better understanding of spatial clustering of [visceral leishmaniasis, or] VL cases and the role of asymptomatically infected individuals in transmission is required to improve control interventions and sustain the elimination target. To address this issue, we have fitted an individual-level spatiotemporal model of VL transmission to geo-located incidence data from Bangladesh to estimate the rate at which VL risk decreases with distance from a case and the potential contribution of asymptomatic individuals to transmission.

Tiny Nanoparticles to Treat a Huge Problem: Snakebites

Donald G. McNeil Jr.
The New York Times
An Epi‑Pen to treat a snakebite? It’s still a distant dream, but a Californian chemist and Costa Rican venom expert are reporting progress in a novel effort to make injectable nanoparticles that can neutralize snake venom and can be carried in backpacks. In a recent study in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, their particles protected mice against tissue damage from spitting‑cobra venom without triggering allergic reactions.

Dramatic drop in public confidence after Philippines dengue vaccine controversy

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)
The study of 1,500 participants revealed a dramatic drop in vaccine confidence, from the majority (93%) “strongly agreeing” that vaccines are important in 2015 to a third (32%) in 2018. The researchers say the findings highlight the importance of identifying gaps or breakdowns in public confidence in vaccines in order to rebuild trust before a pandemic strikes.

DFID 8397 Health Research Programme Consortia (RPCS): Filling the gaps in evidence.

UK Department for International Development
The UK is seen as a leader in health research and a higher level of UK involvement will add value to global research efforts. DFID has committed to the production and use of high quality evidence, data and innovation to accelerate progress towards the Global Goals. Following extensive internal and global consultation, the following areas were identified as being gaps and an opportunity for the UK to intervene, given our relative strengths: (i) Tackling infectious diseases (ii) Building stronger and more resilient health systems, (iii) Improving the health of the world's most vulnerable, including sexual and reproductive health, mental health and maternal, newborn and child health. DFID intends to award a contract in circa May 2019 for an initial term of 6 years with a budget of 65500000 GBP. DFID may extend the duration up to an additional 2 years with a maximum total contract value of 95500000 GBP.

Upcoming Events 

Introduction to Agent-Based Modeling for Infectious Diseases
October 27, New Orleans, Louisiana
ASTMH and the Institute for Disease Modeling (IDM) are partnering to offer an introductory course on using agent-based models for modeling infectious diseases. Modeling is an essential component for understanding disease dynamics and creating effective control strategies, yet it remains inaccessible to many researchers in public health.

Tropical Dermatology
October 27 - 28, New Orleans, Louisiana
This 1.5-day course offers an overview of Tropical Dermatology, an essential component of tropical medicine. The course is designed for clinicians who are already familiar with clinical tropical medicine, either from working in tropical environments or from seeing patients returning from the tropics. Saturday’s session is devoted to cutaneous leishmaniais (the latest in the rapidly changing epidemiology, diagnosis and management). Skin conditions will be reviewed from the standpoint of diagnosing and treating individual patients – and from managing skin diseases on a population basis. 

PLOS Writing Workshop
October 28, New Orleans, Louisiana
PLOS Pathogens and PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, along with the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and Vector Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, present a Writing Workshop intended to equip and support early career researchers and researchers from disease endemic regions in understanding the publication process and best practices for manuscript writing. Highlights of the sessions include: framing your research and choosing your journal, mapping out your paper, abstract writing, the mechanics of writing, and research and publication ethics. For more information, please contact Charlotte Bhaskar at

Big Data and Genomics – A Practical Workshop on Sequence Analysis in Parasitology
October 28, New Orleans, Louisiana
This practical, hands-on workshop will introduce participants to publicly available sequence analysis tools. Using parasite genome and/or RNAseq data obtained from actual field or laboratory experiments, participants will learn analytical methods and workflows used to extract meaningful biological, evolutionary and/or epidemiological insights. Through live exercises led by experts in the field, participants will learn how to retrieve data from sequence repositories, run them through preconfigured or customized workflows, and visualize and explore the data using web-based tools.

The Global Health Impact of Urbanization and Megacities – Trends, Risk Management and Research Needs
October 28, New Orleans, Louisiana
This course will explore the changing worldwide landscape and global health risks with the exponential increase in urban population growth.  Beyond vector-borne diseases, the lack of barriers between animals, vectors, the environment and water supply increases the risk of other diseases such as leptospirosis, Ebola and plague. We urgently need to be prepared for new microbial transmission pathways in the urban environment that affect human health. 

67th Annual ASTMH Meeting 
October 28 - November 1, New Orleans, Louisiana
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. 

7th Global Scabies Control Meeting
October 28, New Orleans, Louisiana
We are pleased to announce the date for the 7th Global Scabies Control meeting. The meeting will be held on Sunday 28th October in New Orleans, LA, USA. Please mark this in your diaries now! Further information and registration details will follow in coming months. 

1st International Caparica Congress on Leishmaniasis
October 29-31, Caparica, Portugal
This conference intends to gather researchers working in areas related to Leishmaniasis, from treatment to prevention. In fact, as leishmaniasis is slowly but constantly, increasing worldwide, this conference is addressed to show the latest research trends in this area. The idea is to push forward the battle against this persistent disease. 

Women Leaders in Global Health London 2018
November 8-9, London, United Kingdom
Celebrating women in global health leadership and cultivating the next generation of women leaders. 

APHA 2018 Annual Meeting and Expo
November 10-14, San Diego, California
Theme: "Creating the Healthiest Nation: Health Equity Now."  

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. 

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.