Sign up to receive our news roundups

Global Health Assembly Calls for Snakebite Envenoming & 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.


The 71st World Health Assembly adopted a resolution formally providing the World Health Organization with a strong mandate to develop a comprehensive plan to support countries in implementing measures for increased access to effective treatment to people who get bitten by venomous snakes.


Lymphatic filariasis

Assessing knowledge about lymphatic filariasis and the implementation of mass drug administration in Indonesia

Christiana R. Titaley et al.
Parasites & Vectors
This research assesses knowledge amongst drug deliverers about the implementation of mass drug administration (MDA) for lymphatic filariasis (LF) in Agam District (West Sumatera Province), the City of Depok (West Java Province) and the City of Batam (Kepulauan Riau Province), Indonesia. A cross-sectional survey was conducted from January to March 2015 at these three sites. Less than half of respondents were charactersised as having a high level of LF knowledge and less than half a high level of knowledge about MDA.

Cervical Lymphatic Filariasis in a Pediatric Patient: Case Report and Database Analysis of Lymphatic Filariasis in the U.S.

Jonathan C. Simmonds, Michael K. Mansour and Walid I. Dagher
The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Commonly seen in tropical developing countries, lymphatic filariasis occurs when adult worms deposit in and obstruct lymphatics. Although not endemic to the United States, a few cases of lymphatic filariasis caused by zoonotic Brugia spp. have been reported. Here we present a case of an 11-year-old female with no travel history who was seen in our clinic for a 1-year history of painless left cervical lymphadenopathy secondary to lymphatic filariasis.

Expression, purification, and inhibition profile of dihydrofolate reductase from the filarial nematode Wuchereria bancrofti

Andrew M. Tobias et al.
Filariasis is a tropical disease caused by the parasitic nematodes Wuchereria bancrofti and Brugia malayi. Known inhibitors of dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) have been previously shown to kill Brugia malayi nematodes and to inhibit Brugia malayi DHFR (BmDHFR) at nanomolar concentrations. These data suggest that BmDHFR is a potential target for the treatment of filariasis. Here, protocols for cloning, expression and purification of Wuchereria bancrofti DHFR (WbDHFR) were developed.

Elephantiasis mass drug administration underway

Lusaka Times (Zambia)
Shang’ombo Public Health Officer Matakala Namukana has urged Shang’ombo residents to comply with the district’s Elephantiasis Mass Drug Administration exercise which is currently on going in the district. The Public Health Officer said the Mass Drug Administration against Lymphatic Filariasis or Elephantiasis started on May 21 2018 and is still on going until a majority of residents in Shangombo district are covered.


Modelling the impact of larviciding on the population dynamics and biting rates of Simulium damnosum

Isobel Routledge et al.
Parasites & Vectors
Focal vector control can reduce vector biting rates in settings where a high larvicidal efficacy can be achieved and an appropriate duration and frequency of larviciding can be ensured. Future work linking SIMPOP with onchocerciasis transmission models will permit evaluation of the impact of combined anti-vectorial and anti-parasitic interventions on accelerating elimination of the disease.


African research institutes KEMRI & UFHB join Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium
The Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and the Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny (UFHB) are reinforcing the non-profit Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium. The Consortium's goal is to make a child-friendly praziquantel treatment available to preschool-age children suffering from schistosomiasis. By providing the Principal Investigators and clinical trial site teams for the phase III pediatric clinical study, the new partners will play a crucial role at this pivotal stage in the development program.

Improving Women’s Health: HIV, Contraception, Cervical Cancer, and Schistosomiasis

Pinelopi Kyriazi
The New York Academy of Sciences
Jennifer Downs, of Weill Cornell Medical College, summarized evidence from epidemiological studies in sub-Saharan Africa on the relationship between Female Genital Schistosomiasis (FGS) and HIV. To date, three studies have found an increased odds of being HIV-infected of at least 2.9 in women with FGS by measuring either parasite eggs or circulating anodic antigen, a carbohydrate produced in the gut of adult schistosome worms. A similar study in men failed to find a significantly increased odds of HIV infection, highlighting that the intersection between schistosomiasis and HIV specifically affects women.

Animal DNA to be frozen in huge national bank

Katie Pavid
Natural History Museum (UK)
The DNA of thousands of animals, including endangered species, is being collected in a national network of freezers. The study of DNA can help scientists to understand how animals have evolved, why they behave in certain ways, why they are vulnerable to disease and how they cause disease in humans. For instance, researchers at the Museum are using and sharing frozen samples to help find treatments for schistosomiasis, a parasitic worm that affects more than 250 million people.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Efficacy of anthelminthic drugs and drug combinations against soil-transmitted helminths: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Naomi Clarke et al.
Clinical Infectious Diseases
Periodic mass distribution of benzimidazole anthelminthic drugs is the key strategy to control soil-transmitted helminths (STH) globally. However, benzimidazoles have low efficacy against Trichuris trichiura, and there are concerns about benzimidazole resistance potentially emerging in humans. Therefore, identifying alternative drug regimens is a pressing priority. In this paper, the authors present a systematic review and network meta-analysis, comparing the efficacy of 21 different anthelminthic drug regimens, including standard, novel, and combination treatments.

100 Years of Mass Deworming Programmes: A Policy Perspective From the World Bank's Disease Control Priorities Analyses

Donald A.P. Bundy et al.
Advances in Parasitology
For more than 100 years, countries have used mass drug administration as a public health response to soil-transmitted helminth infection. The latest analyses recognize the negative impact of intestinal worm infection on human capital in poor communities and document a continuing decline in worm infection as a result of the combination of high levels of mass treatment and ongoing economic development trends in poor communities.

Lab mouse, country mouse: what happens when you move mice from the lab into the field

Christina Faust
Because lab studies often control for environmental conditions, they offer limited abilities to study variation in host susceptibility. Leung and colleagues have recently published a paper in which they bridge the gap between laboratory and field studies of host susceptibility. They rewilded laboratory mice in a natural farm-like setting (i.e. country mouse; Figure 1). So called ‘Long term wild’ mice were introduced to the semi-natural enclosures before experimental infection with Trichuris muris (nematode parasite) whereas ‘short term wild’ mice were introduced 10 days after infection.

Ogun targets 1.3m pupils for 2018 deworming exercise

Razaq Ayinla
Business Day (Nigeria)
In a bid to reduce morbidity, disability and mortality caused by Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD), the Ogun state Government is set to deworm 1.3 million children of school age in the state. “I will use this opportunity to tell our people out there that these initiative is for the benefit of all our children and these are leaders of tomorrow, we must ensure that they are healthy and it will improve their cognitive function so I want to encourage all our mothers out there that they should embrace this, they should not listen to rumor this is free, it is safe. We want to improve the health status of our children so that they can be useful as leaders of tomorrow,” said State Commissioner for Health, Babatunde Ipaye.


Crossing African borders to fight trachoma: no one should be left behind

To mark Africa Day on 25 May, Sightsavers Uganda country director Dr. Johnson Ngorok discusses his work treating the nomadic Ateker population. “Being from the Ateker tribal group myself, I was proud to be able to reach out and meet people who speak the same language as me, but are separated by international borders across four different countries."

War-Torn Yemen Gets First Mass Treatment for Trachoma

The Task Force for Global Health
In Yemen’s “forgotten war,” a troop of health workers recently braved their way into remote villages carrying medicines provided by The Task Force’s International Trachoma Initiative (ITI) for the country’s first ever mass treatment of trachoma — the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness.

School-Based versus Community-Based Sampling for Trachoma Surveillance

Joseph P. Sheehan et al.
The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Trachoma surveillance is typically performed via random sampling of endemic districts. This strategy minimizes bias and allows examination of preschool children, but is also expensive. Surveillance for some other neglected tropical diseases is carried out in schools, which is logistically easier. In the present study, the prevalence of trachomatous inflammation–follicular (TF) from a population-based sample of children from each of 70 communities in Ethiopia was compared with the corresponding school-based estimate, which was calculated for each community by performing examinations in all primary schools in the district.

Karamoja elderly get their sight restored

Olandason Wanyama
New Vision
Close to 5,000 elderly persons have been screened under the expanded social protection and sight savers combined pilot efforts to offer eye care services in Moroto district. The week long pilot exercise covered the four sub-counties of Rupa, Nadunget, Katikeikile and Tapac villages in the district.


World Health Assembly delegates agree new five-year strategic plan

Tarik Jasareuc
World Health Organization
World Health Assembly delegates agreed on an ambitious new strategic plan for the next five years. The Organization’s 13th General Program of Work (GPW) is designed to help the world achieve the Sustainable Development Goals – with a particular focus on SDG3: ensuring healthy lives and promoting wellbeing for all at all ages by 2030.

World Health Assembly delegates agree on resolution on digital health

United News of India
Recognizing the potential of digital technologies to play a major role in improving public health, World Health Assembly delegates have agreed on a resolution on digital health. The resolution on Friday urges member states to prioritize the development and greater use of digital technologies in health as a means of promoting Universal Health Coverage and advancing the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Task Force for Global Health Launches New Focus Area for Compassion and Ethics

David Addiss
The Task Force for Global Health
Global health is grounded in a deep awareness of our interconnectedness, and a concern with the health of all people – not only with the health of our friends or allies. The extraordinarily broad scope of global health and its inextricable link to the forces of globalization raise crucial questions that go well beyond the purview of bioethics, which focuses on ethical issues in clinical medicine and research. Global health ethics must also contend with the challenges of inequity, great cultural divides, power imbalances, ecological disaster, and armed conflict, as well as with the benefits and harm of public health interventions.

“Rapid impact” 10 years after: The first “decade” (2006–2016) of integrated neglected tropical disease control

Peter J. Hotez et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
New data from the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Study 2016 indicate substantial declines in the prevalence and disease burden (as measured in disability-adjusted life years [DALYs]) of six of the seven neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) targeted by integrated mass drug administration (MDA) over the previous decade.

School of Nursing launches TIBA project

University of Botswana
The School of Nursing in the Faculty of Health Sciences has launched the Botswana Tackling Infections to Benefit Africa (TIBA) Project. TIBA – from “to cure an infection” in Swahili and Setswana, is an Africa-led, wide-ranging, multi-disciplinary research programme that explores and draws lessons from the way different African health systems tackle infectious diseases.

The Nigerian Federal Minister of Health’s Keynote Address at the LifeStraw Launch in Abuja

Obie Agusiegbe
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) are crucial to life; sanitation, safe water supply, management and hygiene will go a long way to promote health and prevent diseases such as lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis), schistosomiasis (snail fever), soil transmitted helminthiasis (intestinal worms), trachoma, dysentery, cholera, typhoid, diarrheal diseases . . . The development of a compact portable water filter, Lifestraw being distributed in Nigeria by EnvironFocus Limited enables people to drink straight from sources such as rivers, lakes, streams and ponds.

Women Leaders in Global Health Challenge Contest​

SESH Global
The WHO/TDR clinical research and development fellowship (“the fellowship” in this challenge) provides support for mid-career individuals from low and middle-income countries (LMIC) to spend one year in a high-income country to learn about clinical research. Mid-career is defined as within 10 years of a medical degree or PhD. While women who apply are just as likely as men to receive it, women have been less likely to apply. A wide range of concerns may discourage women from applying, including issues related to moving away from home (finding work for spouses and child care), administrative issues related to going from an LMIC to a high-income country (obtaining visas for spouses, children, and care-givers), and other obligations associated with caregiving.


Snakebite envenoming: Member States provide WHO with clear mandate for global action

Ashok Moloo
World Health Organization
The 71st World Health Assembly adopted a resolution formally providing the World Health Organization with a strong mandate to develop a comprehensive plan to support countries in implementing measures for increased access to effective treatment to people who get bitten by venomous snakes. “The resolution provides WHO with a clear mandate to work with affected countries, partners, stakeholders and industry” said Dr Ren Minghui, WHO Assistant Director-General for Communicable Diseases. “We need to work with everyone to coordinate multifocal measures that can save lives and in most cases life-long disabilities resulting from envenoming”.

Governments step up the snakebite battle

Vince Chadwick
Health experts and campaigners working to help save some of the 100,000 people killed each year by snakebite are celebrating, after a World Health Organization resolution saw 194 countries affirm the need to boost access to quality antivenoms and prevention efforts. A working group from the United Nations health agency is aiming to report by the end of November with recommendations to governments on how to provide higher quality, affordable antivenoms, better training for health care workers, more effective prevention efforts, and more data on the scale of the problem.

Mambas, medicine and one girl's race to survive Kenya's biting problem

Rebecca Ratcliffe
The Guardian
While the need for anti-venom is high, production rates have instead fallen in recent decades. A lack of investment by governments, inefficient production, poor regulation and the inappropriate marketing of products have led to a treatment crisis. “It is a poor man’s disease,” says Dr Eugene Erulu, at nearby Watamu hospital. “If they bite the rich or the most powerful people in the government then the attention would be different. But it’s the poorest of the poor – the guys who are tilling on their farm.”

Visceral leishmaniasis in selected communities of Hamar and Banna-Tsamai districts in Lower Omo Valley, South West Ethiopia

Fitsum Bekele, Tariku Belay, Ahmed Zeynudin and Asrat Hailu
Globally, the Eastern Africa region is one of the main Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) endemic areas. The disease is prevalent in numerous foci within Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan South Sudan, and Uganda. In Ethiopia, the Lower Omo plain is one of the many VL endemic regions. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of asymptomatic visceral leishmaniasisin Hamar and Banna-Tsamai districts of the South Omo plains where VL is becoming an emerging health problem of neglected communities.

Kenya certified as Guinea Worm free, maternal and neonatal tetanus is next

Outbreak News Today
The Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki revealed that beyond Guinea Worm, Kenya is on the path towards more disease eradication. She said that the country is set to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus this year and congenital syphilis as well as mother to child transmission of HIV by 2021. “Indeed, early signs of this are already emerging with some health facilities reporting zero mother-to-child transmission of HIV over the past year.“

Limiting global warming could avoid millions of dengue fever cases

University of East Anglia
Limiting global warming to the Paris Agreement's 1.5°C goal could halt 3.3 million dengue fever cases a year in Latin America and the Caribbean alone, found University of East Anglia researchers. Scientists compared the more modest warming to a 3.7°C global global temperature rise, which by contrast, could result in 7.5 million additional cases of the mosquito-borne disease by mid-century—and countries like Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela would be hardest-hit.

Congo Ebola outbreak offers first test for emergency fund to prevent pandemics

Ben Parker
A new financial mechanism that frees up emergency funding to ward off a pandemic has been activated for the first time, in response to an outbreak of Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The World Bank says the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility, or PEF is a combination of donor cash and capital from the insurance markets provides a new model for epidemic response.

Keeping Your Cool — Doing Ebola Research during an Emergency

Charlotte J. Haug
The New England Journal of Medicine
Two key international actors, Médecins sans Frontières (MSF, or Doctors without Borders) and the World Health Organization (WHO), are testing an Ebola vaccine during the current outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in collaboration with the ministry of health. They must act in a state of extreme uncertainty: the situation is evolving by the hour, information is hard to come by, and the ethical dilemmas and practical hurdles are abundant . . . “You have the collision of all these different worlds at the same time: the humanitarian world, the research world, the North–South, different populations and languages,” says Rebecca Grais of MSF.

How A Cheap Magnet Might Help Detect Malaria

Joe Palca
NPR: All Things Considered
Each year, malaria kills about half a million people around the world. Health officials say a fast, cheap, accurate way to test for people infected with the malaria parasite would be extremely helpful in combating the disease. Now some engineers in California say they've invented a device they someday will do just that. The device takes advantage of the fact that the malaria parasite produces tiny crystals inside infected red blood cells. These crystals have a magnetic property. Put a magnet next to a drop of infected blood, and the crystals move toward the magnet.

Will Alberta Bring Infectious Disease Back to the Third-Coast?

Don Ward Hackett
Precision Vaccinations
Over the past decades, Gulf Coast storms have empowered the spreading of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), such as West Nile, Chagas, Chikungunya, Typhus and Dengue viruses to thrive, says Peter Jay Hotez, M.D., Ph.D., from the Baylor College of Medicine and US Congresswomen Shiela Jackson Lee in a recent study. Further analysis by Dr. Hotez and Congresswomen Lee reveals that up to 4 million of the 60 million people living in 5 Gulf Coast states; Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, are affected by at least 1 NTD.

Upcoming Events

8th International Conference of the International Lymphoedema Framework
June 6-9, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
The principal topics for the conference will include: clinical diagnosis and assessment, self-management, epidemiology and pathophysiology, lymphoedema management, oncology rehab, national guidelines, outcome measures, and pediatric and primary lymphedema.

Innovations for Universal Health Coverage
June 11-12, Bengaluru, India
The aim of the Innovation for UHC Collaboration is to find ways to leverage the transformational potential of these innovations and accelerate progress towards achieving UHC in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) in Asia and Africa. It is led by the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), a global centre of excellence in public health, Amref Health Africa (Amref), the leading health development NGO in Africa and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), the leading centre in multi-disciplinary approaches to development.

Update Course in Clinical Tropical Medicine and Traveler's Health
June 12-13, New Orleans, Louisiana
American Society for Tropical Medicine & Hygiene
ASTMH has developed this course as an update in the essential components of tropical medicine and traveller's health. This two day meeting is designed for physicians and for all other health care providers working in tropical medicine or traveler's health. 

GAELF10 Meeting
June 13-15, New Delhi, India
The 10th Meeting of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (GAELF)

Snakebite: From Science to Society
June 21-22, Leiden, the Netherlands
Naturalis Biodiversity Center
Naturalis organises a 2-day international conference ‘Snakebite : from science to society’ to draw attention to a devastating, neglected tropical disease and to ignite international action on snakebite prevention and treatment. By bringing together science, government, industry and societal & humanitarian aid organisations, we want to take the first steps in developing solutions for the issues concerning snakebites in the tropics.

June 25-26, London, UK
ISNTD d3 will bring togther experts from within drug discovery and clinical trials to drive the debate and foster new partnerships & alliances leading to tangible outcomes in terms of new therapies to combat these diseases.

ITI Trachoma Expert Committee Meeting
June 26-28, Atlanta, Georgia
International Trachoma Initiative's Trachoma Expert Committee Meeting is an independent body of internationally recognized experts that meets twice annually to review country applications for donations of Zithromax®. 

Eradicate Malaria World Congress 2018
July 1-5,  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.

Science in the City: Neglected Tropical Diseases
July 10,  Seattle, Washington
Julie Jacobson, Senior Program Officer, Global Health with The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will discuss controlling neglected tropical diseases. This free even is part of the Pacific Science Center's Global Health and Development lecture series, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and WGHA.

MSF Scientific Days - South Asia 2018
July 16,  New Delhi, India
MSF Scientific Days - South Asia is a conference to showcase research, innovation, and experiences from treatment and humanitarian programmes across the region. The conference provides a platform for stakeholders – health groups, vulnerable communities and treatment providers - to share knowledge and help improve quality of care provided to patients & populations.

5th International Conference on Neglected Tropical & Infectious Diseases
August 29-30,  Boston, Massachussetts
Theme: Uniting all to overcome and fight against NTD's & infectious diseases for improved health protection.

First International Podoconiosis Conference
September 23, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The theme for this is ‘Research to Implementation: A Call for Global Action’. With this invitation to register, we are also calling for abstracts from all those involved in podoconiosis research and implementation. In order to stimulate high levels of participation, the conference programme will include two sessions of research presentations, one of implementation presentations, and a poster display area. Abstracts for each of these will be selected by competitive process, and prizes will be awarded for the best research and the best implementation presentations. Travel awards will be available for a limited number of selected abstracts.

NNN 2018 
September 24-26, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
We are delighted to announce the dates for the 9th NNN annual conference, subject to venue availability.

10th Euro-Global Conference on Infectious Diseases
September 27-29, Rome, Italy
Theme: Advancing in science and improving care to prevent infectious diseases.

International Conference on Migration Health
October 1-3, Rome, Italy
Hosted by the international Society of Travel Medicine.

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. 

Vector-Borne Diseases in the UK - Biennial Meeting, 2018
December 3-4, Norwich, UK
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.