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Just in Time for World Lymphedema Day, WHO Releases New Guidance for LF Morbidity & 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.  

 

A man receives care for his lymphedema caused by lymphatic filariasis.

Photo credit: RTI International/Nguyen Minh Duc

Lymphatic filariasis

WHO publishes materials that aim to provide high-quality care to people affected by lymphatic filariasis

Ashok Moloo
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization (WHO) has updated an aide-mémoire for programme managers to help them provide high-quality care to people suffering from lymphoedema and other consequences of lymphatic filariasis, a debilitating neglected tropical disease (NTD) endemic in 72 countries affecting tens of millions of people. Lymphatic filariasis - managing morbidity and preventing disability: an aide-mémoire for national programme managers, first published in 2013, has been updated to describe the essential package of care for lymphoedema, hydrocele and episodes of adenolymphangitis.

Chronic Care for Neglected Infectious Diseases: Leprosy/Hansen’s Disease, Lymphatic Filariasis, Trachoma, and Chagas Disease

Pan American Health Organization
This manual provides a framework for morbidity management and disability prevention of patients affected by NIDs and gives specific guidance for the proper care of patients suffering from chronic conditions caused by lymphatic filariasis, leprosy, trachoma, and Chagas disease. It is intended to be used mainly by health care workers at the primary health care level, but health workers at more complex and specialized levels may also find it useful.

Discovery of a mechanism of lymphatic disease leads to new opportunities to treat filariasis morbidity

LSTM
A research team led by investigators at LSTMs Centres for Drugs & Diagnostics (CDD) and Neglected Tropical Diseases (CNTD) have determined a cellular and molecular pathway which causes early lymphatic dysfunction during infection with the lymphatic filarial parasite, Brugia malayi.

Filaria patients from Essequibo share their story

Indrawattie Natram
Guyana Chronicle
Narine Datt Murlie and Nankissore Bridgemohan have both been living with lymphatic filariasis for more than a combined 100 years, beginning at the start of the decade of the ’70s.

Anti-Lymphatic Filaria campaign begins in Region 6

News Room (Guyana)
Over 200 pill distributors have been dispatched across Region 6 (East Berbice/Corentyne) for a two-week Lymphatic Filariasis Mass Drug Administration (MDA) campaign. The pill distributors are expected to be visiting homes and public spaces in communities in Region 6 to administer the triple drug treatment of Ivermectin, Dietcarbamazene (DEC) and Albenazole in what is the 2nd and final round of the MDA campaign to make the country Filariasis free.

Genetically modified mosquitoes for better health

Deborah Davis
Cosmos
Mosquitoes are responsible for spreading many diseases, such as malaria, lymphatic filariasis (also known as elephantiasis), and the o’nyong’nyong virus isolated in Uganda. In a new study by CSIRO, led by Geoffrey Hosack, researchers have done a thorough risk assessment of transgenic mosquitoes by combining scientific theory, mathematical models and empirical data about whether disease would actually decrease. The risk of getting malaria from the transgenic mosquitoes was lower for all three of the previously mentioned diseases, compared to wild mosquitoes, they show in their paper, published in Royal Society Open Science.

Semiannual Treatment of Albendazole Alone is Efficacious for Treatment of Lymphatic Filariasis: A Randomized Open-label Trial...

Allassane F Ouattara et al.
Clinical Infectious Diseases
This study compared the efficacy and safety of three years of semiannual treatment with ALB to annual IA in persons with bancroftian filariasis. ... Repeated semiannual treatment with ALB is macrofilaricidal for W. bancrofti and leads to sustained reductions in Mf counts. This is a safe and effective regimen that could be used as MDA to eliminate LF in areas ivermectin cannot be used.

Lymphatic filariasis, infection status in Culex quinquefasciatus and Anopheles species after six rounds of MDA ... in Tanzania

Eliza Lupenza, Dinah B. Gasarasi and Omary M. Minzi
Infectious Diseases of Poverty
LF low transmission is still ongoing in Masasi District after six rounds of MDA and vector control interventions. The findings also suggest that molecular tools may be essential for xenomonitoring LF transmission during elimination phase.

Monitoring migrant groups as a post-validation surveillance approach to contain the potential reemergence of LF

Monique Ameyo Dorkenoo
Parasites & Vectors
This study demonstrates that nomadic Peuhls, with a CFA prevalence of 11.9%, pose a potential risk for reintroduction of LF into Togo while Ghanaian refugees and seasonal economic migrants do not appear to pose a significant risk. Periodic monitoring of migrants, especially the nomadic Peuhl population, is a potential post-validation surveillance approach that could be used to promptly detect any LF cluster that may arise.

A multicenter, community-based, mixed methods assessment of the acceptability of a triple drug regimen for elimination of LF...

Alison Krentel et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
IDA and DA regimens for LF elimination were highly and equally acceptable in individuals participating in the community-based safety study in Fiji, Haiti, India, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. Country variation in acceptability was significant. Acceptability of the professionalism of the treatment delivery was highlighted.

Onchocerciasis

The impact of ivermectin on onchocerciasis in villages co-endemic for LF in an area of onchocerciasis recrudescence...

Achille S. Nikièma et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
In 1989, onchocerciasis had been eliminated as a public health problem throughout Burkina Faso by insecticidal treatment of vector breeding sites, but epidemiological surveys along the Comoé River in 2010/11 revealed a recrudescence of infection rates. Modern onchocerciasis control is based upon mass drug administration using ivermectin, and hence biannual distribution of ivermectin was instigated to bring the recrudescence under control. ... On this basis we conclude that the Burkinabe recrudescence was not the result of parasites with reduced susceptibility to ivermectin, and biannual treatment remains the chosen means to deal with the recrudescence.

The Eagle effect in the Wolbachia-worm symbiosis

Christina A. Bulman et al.
Parasites & Vectors
Worms treated with higher concentrations of antibiotics had higher Wolbachia titers, i.e. as antibiotic concentrations increased there was a corresponding increase in Wolbachia titers. As the concentration of antibiotic increased, worms stopped moving and never recovered despite maintaining Wolbachia titers comparable to controls. Thus, worms were rendered moribund by the higher concentrations of antibiotics but Wolbachia persisted suggesting that these antibiotics may act directly on the worms at high concentration. Surprisingly, in contrast to these results, antibiotics given at low concentrations reduced Wolbachia titers.

Onchocerciasis: GHS begins immunization in eight districts in Ashanti on Saturday

Modern Ghana
The Ashanti Regional Health Directorate is set to embark on a two-week immunization exercise against onchocerciasis in eight endemic districts. ... The immunization exercise which begins on February 27 to March 12, this year, seeks to immunize 479,746 eligible persons in the selected districts. The affected districts are Atwima Mponua, Sekyere Afram Plains, Sekyere East, Sekyere Central, Mampong, Ejura Sekyeredumase, Offinso North and Sekyere Kumawu.

Carter Center partners with GLIDE to treat River Blindness in the Americas; LF and malaria on Hispaniola

Maria Saporta
The Carter Center
The Carter Center and the Global Institute for Disease Elimination (GLIDE) are a new partnership to support innovative disease elimination efforts in the Americas. GLIDE, an initiative of the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has pledged substantial financial and technological support for the Carter Center’s programs to eliminate two neglected diseases: River Blindness (onchocerciasis) in the Amazon rainforest along the Brazil-Venezuela border; and Lymphatic Filariasis (commonly called LF or elephantiasis) throughout Hispaniola, the island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The initiative also supports malaria elimination from Hispaniola. The new partnership will help accelerate progress toward achieving the goals in the newly launched World Health Organization Neglected Tropical Diseases Roadmap 2021-2030, which includes targets for a 90 percent reduction in the number of people requiring treatment for diseases and elimination of at least one of the diseases in 100 countries.

Schistosomiasis

A systematic literature review of schistosomiasis in urban and peri-urban settings

Katharina Klohe et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
In light of the efforts to control morbidity and ultimately achieve elimination of schistosomiasis as well as reaching Sustainable Development Goals 3 “achieve health for all” and 11 “make human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable,” this systematic literature review was conducted to address the existing research and mapping gaps and to contribute to the understanding of the burden of schistosomiasis in areas that have not, as yet, been the focus of control efforts and mass drug administration programs. The review suggests that rapid and unorganized urbanization and resulting poor living conditions in urban and peri-urban areas may lead to new disease foci and thereby increase the overall disease burden.

Pattern analysis of S. haematobium infection and elimination in the area of Alsuki, Sudan

Rawia A. Abdelshafie and Abdalla I. Abdalla Mohamed
International Journal of Community Medicine and Public Health
The impact of health awareness program was measured usefully and the responded factor for reducing the Schistosomiasis diseases was significantly became less than (0.05). Therefore, the actual qualified fitting degree and applicability was significantly becoming (p value=0.001).

Prevalence of schistosomiasis and its association with anemia among pregnant women: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Ishag Adam, Nadiah A. ALhabardi, Osama Al-Wutayd and Ammar H. Khamis
Parasites & Vectors
The present meta-analysis suggests that schistosomiasis during pregnancy is an existing health problem. This meta-analysis also highlights the lack of data on the determinants and outcomes of schistosomiasis during pregnancy. Preventive measures are needed and could be part of antenatal care in areas endemic with schistosomiasis.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Reducing Worm Infestations

Shyam P Lohani
The Rising Nepal
A large number of children in developing countries are infected with common intestinal worms. The parasites can cause malnutrition and hinder a child's ability to grow, thrive, and learn. The basic provision for hand washing and regular deworming can overcome or prevent the morbidities caused by intestinal parasite infections. There is a significant reduction in the rate of intestinal infestations over the last few decades in Nepal. Female Community Health Volunteer (FCHV)’s role in decreasing STH has highly been acknowledged throughout the world. Thus, in this endeavour, their role cannot be undermined and should be scaled up to all over Nepal.

Trachoma

Targeted antibiotics for trachoma: a cluster-randomized trial

Jason S Melo et al.
Clinical Infectious Diseases
Antibiotic treatments targeted to infected pre-school children did not result in significantly less ocular chlamydia infections compared with untreated communities, and did not meet non-inferiority criteria relative to mass azithromycin distributions. Targeted approaches may require treatment of a broader segment of the population in areas with hyperendemic trachoma.

Talking trachoma with Dr. Paul Courtright and Seva Canada

Katrina Bouzanis
Canadian Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases
In Part 1 of this series, I spoke to Seva Canada Board Member Dr. Paul Courtright about trachoma efforts and his advice for students and young professionals.

Squamish university grads help bring eye surgeries to rural Egypt

Jennifer Thuncher
The Squamish Chief (Canada)
Quest University alumni launch Collaborative Vision Foundation, which funds vision-saving trachoma surgeries.

AUDIO: Can We Stop Mass Drug Administration Prior to 3 Annual Rounds in Communities With Low Prevalence of Trachoma? . . .

JAMA Ophthalmology
Interview by JAMA Ophthalmology with Dr. Sheila West from Johns Hopkins on new research on Can We Stop Mass Drug Administration Prior to 3 Annual Rounds in Communities With Low Prevalence of Trachoma? PRET Ziada Trial Results.

Cross-cutting

Achieving equity in UHC interventions: who is left behind by neglected tropical disease programmes in Cameroon?

Makia Christine Masong et al.
Global Health Action
Programme implementation gaps have created circumstances where indigenous farmers (originally from the region) and migrating farmers (not originally from the region known as ‘strangers’ and ‘farm hands’), women of reproductive age and school-aged children are continuously missed in MDA efforts in Cameroon. Key implementation challenges that limit access to MDA within this context include inadequate sensitization campaigns that don’t sufficiently build trust with different groups; limits in CDD training around pregnancy and reproductive health; lack of alignment between distribution and community availability and the exclusion of existing formal and informal governance structures that have established trusting community relationships.

Ending neglected tropical diseases to foster a more inclusive society

Kimberly Kamara and Tegan Mosugu
Your Say, PLOS Blogs
A world free of parasitic, bacterial, and viral infections is within reach as long as cross-sector stakeholders are able to rally together to achieve national and global targets aimed at eliminating the scourge of these diseases. In creating such a desirable future, it is critical that an integrated approach is used to treat people so that nobody is left behind and those with the greatest need are served.

Announcing the Launch of the COR-NTD Research Dataverse

Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center
The Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases (COR-NTD) has launched its data repository, the COR-NTD Research Dataverse. Dataverse is a tool that not only provides additional data transparency, but also paves the way for modelling, secondary analysis and replication, while protecting study participant privacy.

Other

Perceived barriers to Chagas disease screening among a diverse group of prenatal care providers

Helen Mahoney West, Carly E. Milliren, Olivera Vragovic, Julia R. Köhler and Christina Yarrington
PLOS One
The objective of this study was to assess perceived barriers to Chagas disease screening among prenatal care providers in Obstetrics/Gynecology and Family Medicine Departments of a tertiary care safety-net hospital caring for a significant at-risk population.

Number of people requiring post-exposure prophylaxis to end leprosy: A modeling study

Anneke T. Taal, David J. Blok, Wim H. van Brakel, Sake J. de Vlas and Jan Hendrik Richardus
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
The leprosy problem is far greater than the 210,000 new cases reported annually. Our model estimates of the number of people requiring PEP to achieve significant reduction of new leprosy cases can be used by policymakers and program managers to develop long-term strategies to end leprosy.

VIDEO: Prescription for Progress 2021

Devex
On Feb. 25, 2021, Devex hosted the third edition of Prescription for Progress — this year a series of virtual conversations diving into learnings about global health partnerships over the past year — bringing together leaders across sectors working on technology and innovation to advance global health.

COVID-19

Drive against elephantiasis postponed

Arjun Poudel
The Kathmandu Post (Nepal)
The second phase of Covid-19 immunisation drive, which is set to start from March 7, will push back the mass drug administration campaign against lymphatic filariasis or elephantiasis by three weeks.

Covid-19 vaccine rollout by India has 'rescued the world' from pandemic, says top US scientist

The Times of India
The rollout of the Covid-19 vaccines by India in collaboration with leading global institutions has "rescued the world" from the deadly coronavirus and the contributions by the country must not be underestimated, a top American scientist has said. India is called the pharmacy of the world during the Covid-19 pandemic with its vast experience and deep knowledge in medicine. The country is one of the world's biggest drug-makers and an increasing number of countries have already approached it for procuring coronavirus vaccines.

Senate relief package earmarks $10B for global coronavirus response

Laura Kelly
The Hill (USA)
The Senate is considering $10 billion in international assistance for the State Department and global response to the coronavirus pandemic, part of the $1.9 trillion relief package that is up for a vote in the upper chamber. The bulk of the money is directed toward aiding the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic and other infectious and communicable diseases, with hundreds of millions of dollars more helping fund the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other global assistance funds through September 2022. This includes providing $8.675 billion for the global response to the pandemic.

COVID-19 lessons for trapping the next pandemic

Eileen Drage O'Reilly
Axios
Now that COVID-19 vaccines are bringing hope to fighting the pandemic, there is some concern the U.S. and others will lose interest in improving the tools needed to confront emerging outbreaks. The big picture: On top of the coronavirus pandemic, there are currently other smaller outbreaks around the globe — some with pandemic potential. These, and the threat of viruses emerging in the future, mean more permanent pandemic preparedness is needed, experts tell Axios.

Opinion: What COVID-19 tells us about battling malaria, other infectious diseases in Africa

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Jakaya Kikwete
Devex
A year ago, as the first COVID-19 diagnoses were confirmed around the world, governments began to look back at history for guidance on how to prepare for what lay ahead. For African leaders, the threat was familiar. The continent copes daily with societal and economic disruption caused by infectious diseases, which have returned to plague both lower-income and richer nations in the past year. The COVID-19 pandemic has placed incredible additional strain on health systems across Africa. Countries must work to maintain routine health services, even as they try to manage the added burdens. We are inspired by the response to COVID-19. Communities have adopted new behaviors to protect themselves, wearing masks and observing social distancing. Governments and businesses continue to work together at unprecedented speed to produce vaccines that promise to rid the world of COVID-19. So, while it is urgent that Africa benefits equitably from the latest advances in treating and preventing COVID-19, we must also ensure our underlying health systems are strengthened to combat the many other infectious diseases that currently attract less attention, but not fewer fatalities or less strain on health systems.

Eisai to Support Construction of Screening Framework for the Novel Coronavirus Infection in Kenya

Eisai Global
Eisai Co., Ltd. announced today that it has decided to assent to and support a project led by CA Medlynks Kenya, Ltd., a subsidiary of the healthcare startup company engaged in improving healthcare access in Africa, Connect Afya Co., Ltd., which aims to build a new structure for the efficient testing framework for the novel coronavirus infection in Kenya. CA Medlynks Kenya, Ltd., in collaboration with the government of Meru County in Kenya, will support the setup of PCR testing laboratories, along with procurement of equipment necessary for testing and training of screening technicians.

UPCOMING EVENTS

NOTE - Events may be postponed or cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please check with event organizers to confirm events.

Compassionate Leadership in Global Health
March 11, 2021
The WHO Global Learning Laboratory for Quality Universal Health Coverage and The Task Force for Global Health 

CUGH Conference: Addressing Critical Gaps in Global Health and Development
March 12-14, 2021
Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy

Quality, Speed & Equity: Delivering COVID-19 Vaccines to the World
March 15, 2021
World Health Organization, USP, and Sabin Vaccine Institute

FP Virtual Dialogue: How to Stop Fake News
March 18, 2021
FP and Northwestern Buffett Institute for Global Affairs

ISNTD Festival 2021
March 24-25, 2021
International Society for Neglected Tropical Diseases

World Health Day
April 7, 2021
World Health Organization

XVI Workshop on Chagas Disease
April 15-16, 2021
Instituto de Salud Global de Barcelona

Spread Truth, Not Disease Hackathon
April 17-18, 2021
The Task Force for Global Health

30th Annual Molecular Parasitology & Vector Biology Symposium
May 4, 2021
Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases, University of Georgia

Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting 2021 
June 20-26, 2021
The Commonwealth

World Field Epidemiology Day 
September 7, 2021
Training Programs in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network

NTD NGO Network Conference 2021
September 7-9, 2021
Neglected Tropical Disease NGO Network

FREE ONLINE COURSE: Improving the Health of Women, Children and Adolescents: from Evidence to Action.
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine 

FREE ONLINE COURSE: Neglected tropical diseases in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic: impact and guidance
World Health Organization