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Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy Announced & 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. 


To coincide with World Leprosy Day 2018, a new global partnership for zero leprosy has been launched. Tackling the last mile in the fight to eradicate leprosy, the partnership combines expertise and coordinates research and funding efforts towards a world without leprosy.


Lymphatic filariasis

Molecular xenomonitoring for post-validation surveillance of lymphatic filariasis in Togo: no evidence for active transmission

Monique A. Dorkenoo et al.
Parasites & Vectors
This survey assessed the mosquito vectors of the disease and determined the presence of infection in these vectors, testing the hypothesis that transmission has already been interrupted in Togo. . . These results confirm the findings of epidemiological transmission assessment surveys conducted in 2012 and 2015, which demonstrated the absence of LF transmission in Togo. The challenges of implementing molecular xenomonitoring are further discussed.

Expanded Drug Commitment Could Accelerate Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis

The Task Force for Global Health
[Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center, or] NTD-SC staff recently visited Kenya – which could be the first country to administer the three-drug therapy on a large scale – to establish a protocol for eliminating LF the country. This will include providing recommendations for mass drug treatment with the new triple-drug therapy that also includes the drugs diethylcarbamazine and albendazole, and determining the metrics for success. Kenya’s Neglected Tropical Diseases program head Sultani Matendechero said the increased donation of ivermectin will reduce the time needed to eliminate LF in his country from five to two years. “That is an exciting prospect,” he said.

Combinations of registered drugs reduce treatment times required to deplete Wolbachia in the Litomosoides sigmodontis mouse mode

Sabine Specht et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Doxycycline has been successfully used in clinical trials, however due to its long regimen as well as restrictions of use in children and pregnant women new drugs or drug combinations are required that overcome these obstacles. Here, we present the filarial parasite Litomosoides sigmodontis as suitable model for the preclinical testing of anti-wolbachial drugs against filariae and show that combinations of already registered drugs with anti-wolbachial efficacy are able to reduce the treatment time dramatically.

Lymphatic filariasis drug drive in two districts in February

The Times of India
The second round of MDA (mass drug administration) against 'lymphatic filariasis' in Bihar will be held in Jehanabad and Shekhpura districts from February 19 to 24. . . "The aim is to control the transmission of lymphatic filariasis," he said and added the SHSB would ensure coverage of every household in Jehanabad and Shekhpura districts in the allotted five days.


A new powerful drug to combat river blindness

Michel Boussinesq
The Lancet
Programmatically speaking, moxidectin has two main advantages: annual treatment could affect onchocerciasis transmission to a similar extent to that of biannual ivermectin treatment, and the effect on transmission will not be as dependent on time of distribution relative to peak transmission season as that of ivermectin is.

Single dose moxidectin versus ivermectin for Onchocerca volvulus infection. . .

Nicholas O. Opoku et al.
The Lancet
This double-blind, parallel group, superiority trial was done in four sites in Ghana, Liberia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. . . Skin microfilarial loads (i.e., parasite transmission reservoir) are lower after moxidectin treatment than after ivermectin treatment. Moxidectin would therefore be expected to reduce parasite transmission between treatment rounds more than ivermectin could, thus accelerating progress towards elimination.


AUDIO: Australian scientists develop new blood test to identify neglected tropical diseases

Fran Kelly
ABC Online
A new blood test, developed in Queensland, could make it quicker and easier for authorities to target those who are sickest. But, with commercial interest unlikely, it could become another potential solution that won't reach those who need it most.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Inclusion of edaphic predictors for enhancement of models to determine distribution of soil-transmitted helminths. . .

Nicholas Midzi et al.
Parasites & Vectors
This study tested whether combining edaphic predictors with relevant environmental predictors improves model performance when predicting the distribution of STH, Ascaris lumbricoides and hookworms at a national scale in Zimbabwe. . .The findings from this study demonstrate significant model improvement if relevant edaphic variables are included in model calibration resulting in more accurate mapping of STH. The results also provide spatially-explicit information to aid targeted control of STHs in Zimbabwe and other countries with STH burden.

The COUNTDOWN Study Protocol for Expansion of Mass Drug Administration Strategies against Schistosomiasis and STH

Suzy J. Campbell et al.
Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease
Using a multidisciplinary approach, this study will generate evidence for improved availability, acceptability, affordability, and accessibility to deworming drugs against schistosomiasis and STH to individuals and communities in Ghana. This is likely to have considerable research, programmatic, and political value to contribute evidence for national programme policy development within Ghana, and, more broadly, World Health Organization policy development.

Assessing the feasibility of interrupting the transmission of soil-transmitted helminths through mass drug administration. . .

Kristjana Hrönn Ásbjörnsdóttir et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
The DeWorm3 Project will test the feasibility of this approach to interrupting the transmission of STH using a series of cluster randomized trials in Benin, India and Malawi. Each study area (population ≥80,000) will be divided into 40 clusters and randomized to community-wide or standard-of-care targeted MDA for three years. Two years following the final round of MDA, prevalence of STH will be compared between arms and transmission interruption assessed in each cluster. The DeWorm3 trials will provide stakeholders with information regarding the potential to switch from STH control to a more ambitious and sustainable strategy.

Nearly 5.5 crore school children to get deworming tablets in Patna

Faryal Rumi
The Times of India
Over 5.53 crore children in the age group of 1-19 years will be administered Albendazole - a chewable tablet - in all government, government-aided and private schools to mark National Deworming Day (NDD) on February 19. Navodayas, Kendriya Vidyalayas, madrassas, anganwadi kendras and Sanskrit schools will also be covered under this programme. In fact, out-of-school children will also be administered the drug.


Achieving Universal Health Coverage – how the global trachoma elimination programme is taking us a step closer

Virginia Sarah
Universal health coverage is not only about treating people who are sick, but also requires that infrastructure is in place that prevents people from falling ill in the first place. The F&E components of the SAFE Strategy (namely facial cleanliness and environmental improvements), are essential to the sustainability of the programme as they reduce the transmission of the disease. These water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programmes are being increasingly integrated into national programmes, reducing the risk not only of trachoma, but also diarrhoea, cholera, dysentry and other neglected tropical diseases including schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis and soil-transmitted helminths.

Can blindness be spread by flies?

Ailie Robinson
The transmission routes of trachoma, a blinding eye disease, are still not fully understood. Some evidence points towards transmission by a disease vector - Musca sorbens, the fly that visits eyes to obtain liquid or nutrition.

VIDEO: Fighting Trachoma in Senegal

RTI International
What does it take to reach nearly 800,000 people with medicine in less than one week? This photo story follows health workers in one of Senegal’s biggest and busiest cities as they go house to house administering medicines to prevent and treat trachoma, a painful eye infection that can cause blindness. The story is the first in a new series from RTI International, “ENVISION In Focus”, which uses photography and simple storytelling to showcase the complex and effective efforts being undertaken to control and eliminate NTDs around the world.


Tanzania: Neglected Diseases Now to Be Part of Malaria Scorecard

Syriacus Buguzi
The Citizen
The African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) is expected to release its annual scorecard on the coming Sunday of 28 January,updating the progress made in malaria control and prevention on the continent. . . For the first time this year, ALMA, in collaboration with Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases and the World Health Organization, will report the progress made on five neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) that affect the poorest populations in Africa.

Polio labs equipped to study rare tropical diseases

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
Science Daily
Researchers from LSTM have investigated the possibility of utilising the Polio network of 145 labs set up around the world to help tackle neglected tropical diseases which impact on the lives of about a billion of people. . . "The study demonstrates a potential way forward in the monitoring and control of neglected tropical diseases that could be adapted and included in the legacy plan of the Global Polio Laboratory Network." says LSTM's Dr Emily Adams and the paper's senior author, "we are excited at the prospect of working with this team as we go forward'

Davos 2018: fund executive pushes neglected diseases to the fore

Mustafa Alrawi
The National (United Arab Emirates)
"People need to be slowly checking problems off the list, we have a lot to deal with in the world," she says as we sit in a noisy and crowded hotel lobby in Davos. She has come to the forum to convince leaders and executives to put on the agenda the effort to end the five most prevalent neglected tropical diseases - intestinal worms, schistosomiasis, trachoma, river blindness and lymphatic filariasis. They affect about 1.5 billion people, 875 million of them children. "Getting that high level of attention and engagement can all of a sudden get you the political will. You can have all the money in the world but if you don't have the political will and local partnerships it won't be enough," she says.

Windows to the world: How eye care is about more than health

It’s easy to see why eye health doesn’t rank high among development priorities for everyone: It isn’t specifically mentioned in the Sustainable Development Goals. Yet a number of SDGs will not be reached without seeking to improve vision among the world’s most vulnerable: health, of course, but also poverty, economic growth, and education, to name a few. Water and sanitation, being connected to water-borne diseases causing blindness such as trachoma and onchocerciasis, are equally essential to promoting good eyesight, as well as forming partnerships with other development organizations working on connected issues, governments, and the private sector.


New Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy Launches to Accelerate Progress Toward a World Without Leprosy

3BL Media
Ahead of World Leprosy Day on Sunday 28 January 2018, several leading leprosy groups have joined forces to launch a Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy to accelerate progress towards a world without leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease. The Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy brings together organizations including the Novartis Foundation, the International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations (ILEP), the International Association for Integration, Dignity and Economic Advancement (IDEA), as well as national leprosy programs, with support from the World Health Organization (WHO). The secretariat for the partnership will be hosted by the Task Force for Global Health in Decatur, GA, USA.

Snakebite: the silent killer that comes with poverty

Kevin McCracken and David Phillips
The Sydney Morning Herald
The West African Ebola epidemic affected 28,600 people and killed 11,300 in 2014-15. Snakebite, however, has largely been overlooked by medical researchers, health planners and providers, and other authorities. In large measure those most at risk of snakebite envenoming are those with little "voice" in setting national and international health agendas.

Texas Children's Hospital Receives Grant to Continue Developing a Vaccine for Chagas Disease

Rick King
Healthy Magazine
Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi, the center’s co-director, echoed that “the fact there is significant transmission of Chagas disease in Texas, means the vaccine would also benefit a generation of Texans.” Co-investigator Dr. Ulrich Strych pointed out “this would represent one of the first new significant therapeutic developments for this disease.”

Link found between genes in mosquitos and the spread of diseases

Austin Fitzgerald
"Given the widespread global distribution of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, we estimate over 40 percent of the world's population is at risk from dengue," said [Susanta] Behura, assistant research professor in bioinformatics and computational biology in the Division of Animal Sciences. "Now that the study has been completed, the research could be used to precisely modify the genetic material of mosquitos, preventing them from spreading disease to humans."

Swatting Mosquitoes Teaches Them to Stay Away, Study Suggests

George Dvorsky
Attempts to kill a mosquito aren’t always met with success—these annoying bloodsuckers seem preternaturally good at evading hand swats. Surprising new research suggests mosquitos learn from these near-death experiences, staying clear of a particular odor they’ve learned to associate with the perpetrator.

Rare Neurological Disorder Linked to Zika

The Task Force for Global Health
A public health investigation supported by The Task Force for Global Health’s TEPHINET program has found a “causal relationship” between Zika infection and a rare, potentially life-threatening neurological disorder called Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS). “At this point, we can fairly confidently say there is a strong – and probably a causal relationship – between Zika and GBS,” said James Sejvar, MD, neuroepidemiologist and lead project investigator with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Mosquito-packed drones could give extra bite to Zika fight

Sophie Hares
Thomson Reuters Foundation
Spraying thousands of chilled, sterile mosquitoes from specially adapted drones could prove a cost-effective way to slash numbers of the insects and curb the spread of Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases, say the backers of the technology. WeRobotics, a non-profit trialling the method, plans to start mosquito-release tests shortly in Latin America.

Strengthening national clinical research capacities is key to epidemic preparedness and saving lives

Marie-Paule Kieny, Dr. Richard Sezibera and Mukesh Chawla
Investing in Health
A clear lesson that emerged from the Ebola experience is that research for medical countermeasures should be prioritized as part of epidemic preparedness, and that all countries need to develop strong and sustainable core capacities at the intersection of health systems and research. Public health, clinical care, and clinical research are important and interconnected components of a strong health system – and none can be divorced from the rest.

A Year of Successes in Global Health

Melvin Sanicas
Project Syndicate
In the field of human development, the year that just ended was better than many predicted it would be. A decade after the Great Recession began, economic recovery continued in 2017, and progress was made on issues like poverty, education, and global warming. But perhaps the most significant achievements of the last 12 months were in global health. I count 18 unique successes in 2017, many of which will help sow the seeds of progress for the months and years ahead.

Health as an enabler for development progress

Rebecca Root
Neglected tropical diseases, noncommunicable diseases, ageing, and diet are just some of the factors that threaten individual health each day. Access to services that will combat those is critical, which is why good health and well-being was marked out as a standalone Sustainable Development Goal. But beyond the direct outcomes of increased life expectancy, a reduction in child and maternal mortality rates, and access to modern contraception, good health is also a key enabler of progress in other areas.

Upcoming Events

World Leprosy Day
January 28
World Leprosy Day, observed on the last Sunday of January, focuses on the target of zero cases of leprosy-related disabilities in children. Disabilities do not occur overnight, but happen after a prolonged period of undiagnosed disease. Early detection is key to achieve this target, alongside scaling up interventions to prevent leprosy transmission. Leprosy affected 212 000 more people globally in 2015. Of them 60% were in India. The other high-burden countries were Brazil and Indonesia. Of the new cases 8.9% were children and 6.7% presented with visible deformities.This year, WHO urges countries to scale-up interventions with a focus to avoid transmission of leprosy. An intensified, all-inclusive approach can prevent thousands of infections every year.

Quality Research for Effective Policies - LCNTDR highlights from 2017
January 31, London, UK
Join us for an evening of presentations and discussion aimed at highlighting research contributions to NTD policy, as well as a commemoration of the 6th anniversary of the London Declaration on NTDs. Keynote address will be from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Professor Simon Brooker who will be discussing the roads from NTD research through to policy and large-scale implementation. 

All Party Parliamentary Group on Malaria and NTDS
February 6, London, UK
A special joint event between the APPMG and LCNTDR to mark the anniversary of the London Declaration on NTDs. The meeting will bring together parliamentarians, members of the House of Lords, researchers, donors and NTD stakeholders to discuss how research is strengthening the evidence base and helping policy makers make informed decisions. A drinks reception will follow the meeting.

ISNTD Festival
March 27, London, UK
The ISNTD Festival brings together the best in communication, arts, entertainment and science to help complex public health messages reach patients, the public and global health professionals worldwide.

World Vaccine Washington
April 3-5, Washington, DC
Make sure you are at the forefront of the vaccines industry. No matter where your interest lies, we have content, networking and potential partners for you. By bringing eight events together under one roof, you get to choose the sessions which are the most applicable to help your business plan for the future of vaccine research, development and manufacture.

Multilateral Initiative on Malaria 
April 15-18, Dakar, Senegal
The Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) was established in 1997 with a mission to strengthen and sustain through collaborative research and training, the capacity of malaria-endemic countries in Africa to carry out research that is required to develop and improve tools for malaria control and to strengthen the research-control interphase.

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

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.

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.

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.

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. 

Women Deliver 2019 Conference 
June 3-6, 2018, 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.