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Lymphatic Filariasis Eliminated as a Public Health Problem in Palau, Vietnam and Wallis and Futuna & 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.

LF in Vietnam

Truong Van Duc and his grandchildren walk through a village road where they live in Ly Nhan district, Ha Nam Province, Vietnam. Mr. Duc suffers from lymphedema caused by lymphatic filariasis, a neglected tropical disease.


Lymphatic filariasis

Three more countries eliminate lymphatic filariasis

Ruel E. Serrano
World Health Organization Western Pacific Region
Palau, Viet Nam, and Wallis and Futuna have eliminated lymphatic filariasis as a public health problem, bringing to 11 the number of countries and areas validated since 2000 in the World Health Organization (WHO) Western Pacific Region. . . "Lymphatic filariasis used to be endemic in several parts of Viet Nam, putting millions of people at risk. Thanks to decades of support from WHO and other development partners, we finally achieved our goal of ‘a Viet Nam Free of lymphatic filariasis’. We will continue to provide quality care for people affected with complications of this disease and ensure post-elimination surveillance, as guided by WHO," said Madam Nguyen Thi Kim Tien, Minister of Health, Viet Nam.

Anti-filaria campaign launched

Stabroek News (Guyana)
With the aim of eliminating lymphatic filariasis by 2027 and following the achievement of 86% coverage for last year, the Ministry of Public Health yesterday launched the Mass Drug Administration (MDA) campaign. . . the evidence is present that the elimination of lymphatic filariasis in Guyana is not an elusive dream but a real possibility. “And someday an event like this will be held to declare that lymphatic filariasis is no longer a public health problem but has been arrested, convicted and sentenced to banishment,” [Dr. Quincy] Jones declared. He added that the other regions are not forgotten.

Towards elimination of lymphatic filariasis in southeastern Madagascar: Successes and challenges for interrupting transmission

Andres Garchitorena et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
A global strategy of mass drug administration (MDA) has greatly reduced the burden of lymphatic filariasis (LF) in endemic countries. In Madagascar, the National Programme to eliminate LF has scaled-up annual MDA of albendazole and diethylcarbamazine across the country in the last decade, but its impact on LF transmission has never been reported. The objective of this study was to evaluate progress towards LF elimination in southeastern Madagascar.


Impact of repeated annual community directed treatment with ivermectin on loiasis parasitological indicators in Cameroon...

Samuel Wanji et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Loiasis is a filarial infection endemic in the rainforest zone of west and central Africa particularly in Cameroon, Gabon, Republic of Congo, and Democratic Republic of the Congo. Repeated treatments with ivermectin have been delivered using the annual community directed treatment with ivermectin (CDTI) approach for several years to control onchocerciasis in some Loa loa-Onchocerca volvulus co-endemic areas. The impact of CDTI on loiasis parasitological indicators is not known. We, therefore, designed this cross sectional study to explore the effects of several rounds of CDTI on parasitological indicators of loiasis.


A dangerous disease rears its head in Myanmar

Aung Phay Kyi Soe
Myanmar Times
People in Rakhine State need to be more aware of the dangers of schistosomiasis, an acute and chronic disease caused by parasitic flatworms, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). . . “The mission found that the environment in the region is conducive for schistosomiasis transmission. Proper sanitation is lacking, floods are very common, and behaviour that favours the transmission of the disease was evident,” Dr Stephan Paul Jost, WHO representative to Myanmar, said on Friday.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Shadow Puppets and Neglected Diseases: Evaluating a Health Promotion Performance in Rural Indonesia

Johanna Kurscheid et al.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
‘Rama and the Worm’ is a shadow puppet production targeting neglected diseases in Central Java. It is an entertainment-based intervention study to promote health by reducing the impact of parasitic diseases such as soil-transmitted helminths (STH). The study uses traditional Javanese shadow puppetry (wayang kulit) as a vehicle in village communities to disseminate health messages and promote behaviour change to prevent diseases caused, primarily, by inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.

Misconceptions and paradoxes in soil-transmitted helminthiases control as a public health problem

Alejandro J. Krolewiecki
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
With an initial goal of morbidity control, there are already discussions and proposals for elimination of STH if support is sustained and empiric facts confirm data emerging from modeling and small-scale studies. The aim of these comments is to describe and question instances of currently accepted concepts, theories, and practices that conform to the dogmatic status quo that serves as the foundation on top of which the new elimination aspirations are supposed to be built on, which might not be serving the desired purpose if taken unrevised.


The future of eye care in a changing world

Bulletin of the World Health Organization
In the editorial section, Ivo Kocur et al. introduce this theme issue on the future of eye care in a changing world. . . In the news section, Jack Latimore reports on efforts to address eye-care needs of Australia’s Indigenous people. In an interview, Haroon Awan explains to Fiona Fleck (672–673) how several low- and middle-income countries are incorporating eye care into their national health strategies. . . Sarity Dodson et al. compare frameworks for interventions needed to eliminate trachoma in 57 countries.

Antimicrobial resistance following mass azithromycin distribution for trachoma: a systematic review

Kieran S. O'Brien et al.
The Lancet Infectious Diseases
In this systematic review we synthesise evidence on the emergence of antimicrobial resistance after mass azithromycin distribution. . . The lack of resistance in Chlamydia trachomatis suggests that azithromycin might remain effective for trachoma programmes, but evidence is scarce. As mass azithromycin distribution for trachoma continues and is considered for other indications, ongoing monitoring of antimicrobial resistance will be required.

Call for LCIF SightFirst Grants 2019

The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness
The Lions Club International Foundation (LCIF) provides funds to support public health research initiatives that evaluate and directly influence the operation of the SightFirst program, Lions’ premier initiative to strengthen eye care systems in underserved communities. Projects are aimed at demonstrating effective and safe public health approaches to. . . capitalize upon the investment made in trachoma elimination (S component) to advance the provision of sustainable comprehensive eye care services.


Neglected tropical diseases: treating more than one billion people in 2017

Ashok Moloo
The World Health Organization
The World Health Organization (WHO) has published data for 2017 showing that more than 1 billion individuals were treated during mass drug administration campaigns for at least one of five neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) that are amenable to preventive chemotherapy. This critical milestone has been reached for the third consecutive year.

Coherence between research output and public health priorities: the case of neglected tropical diseases in Brazil

Bruna de Paula Fonseca, Priscila Costa Albuquerque and Fabio Zicker
Proceedings of the 23rd International Conference on Science and Technology Indicators
This study highlights the relevance of monitoring health needs, research agendas, investment and research outputs to optimize the uptake of scientific evidence into health, particularly in developing countries, where resources are scarce and research capacity limited. Our results show that the analysis of the NTD research portfolio could help identify research topics and promote research more closely aligned to social needs.

New Clinical Trials For Neglected Diseases In Eastern Africa In Progress

Mekonnen Teshome
New Business Ethiopia
Scientists working for the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) say that they are conducting research and clinical trials to find safer, efficacious and more patient friendly treatment for various Neglected Tropical Diseases.

We need breakthrough technologies to reach the Sustainable Development Goal targets for health

Gavin Yamey and Alexander Gunn
Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3—ensuring healthy lives and promoting wellbeing for all—is accompanied by a very ambitious set of targets. These include ending avertable child deaths and ending the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), malaria, and neglected tropical diseases by 2030. Are these achievable or can they be dismissed as just a “fairytale”?

Drug repurposing to treat major infectious diseases

Iqra Farooq
European Pharmaceutical Review
Millions every year suffer from potentially fatal, infectious diseases, that leave people with a lifetime of health problems. Using a library of (nearly) all existing small-molecule drugs appropriate for direct use in humans, scientists at Calibr, are exploring whether they could be reused for other diseases. . . “The drugs we’ve assembled in ReFRAME have already been shown safe in humans, making them an incredibly valuable resource for tackling areas of urgent unmet medical need, especially neglected tropical diseases," [said Dr. Pete Schulz].

Call for Applications: The Michelson Prizes

Human Vaccines Project
The 2019 Michelson Prizes have been expanded to include three focus areas: Human Immunology, Computational Biology and Protein Engineering, and Neglected Parasitic Diseases. All focus areas are aimed at supporting research with the potential to transform vaccine and immunotherapy discovery.


Dengue fever vaccine delivered with nanotechnology targets all four virus serotypes

Medical Xpress
Each year, an estimated 25,000 people die from dengue infections and millions more are infected. Scientists have been trying to create a dengue vaccine for many years, but creating an effective vaccine is challenging due to the four different serotypes of the virus. . . In their paper published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Aravinda de Silva, Ph.D., professor of microbiology and immunology, and UNC research associate Stefan Metz, Ph.D., detail how their nanoparticle delivery platform is producing a more balanced immune response versus other vaccine delivery platforms.

Sociocultural dynamics that influence Chagas disease health care in Colombia

Adriana Gisela Martínez-Parra, Maria Yaneth Pinilla-Alfonso and César ErnestoAbadía-Barrero
Social Science & Medicine
Chagas disease (CD) is a Latin America endemic and neglected tropical disease that affects primarily poor people living in rural areas. Its current low profile leads to many diagnostic, treatment, and control challenges. This study aimed to identify and characterize the sociocultural dynamics that influence CD health care in Colombia.

Podoconiosis pathogenesis: renewed use of an historical archive

Alexander Yardy, Anthony T. Williams and Gail Davey
Transactions of The Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
This brief commentary links two articles from the Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene with Ernest Price’s recently rediscovered collection of archival materials and explains how these have shaped recent research into the pathogenesis of the NTD podoconiosis.

The Development of a Mobile Application to Support Peripheral Health Workers to Diagnose and Treat People with Skin Diseases...

Liesbeth F. Mieras et al.
Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease
Netherlands Leprosy Relief (NLR) has developed a mobile phone application called the ‘SkinApp’, which aims to support peripheral health workers to recognize the early signs and symptoms of skin diseases, including skin NTDs, and to start treatment promptly or refer for more advanced diagnostic testing or disease management when needed. Further research is needed to determine how greatly mHealth in general and the SkinApp in particular can contribute to improved health outcomes, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness

Nanoparticles to treat snakebites

Avren Keating
Venomous snakebites affect 2.5 million people, and annually cause more than 100,000 deaths and leave 400,000 individuals with permanent physical and psychological trauma each year. Researchers reporting in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases have now described a new approach to treating snake bites, using nanoparticles to bind to venom toxins and prevent the spread of venom through the body.

Malaria parasites adapt to mosquito feeding times, study shows

Malaria parasites have evolved to be most infectious at the time of day when mosquitoes feed, to maximise the chance of being spread, research shows. The finding explains why people with the disease experience regular bouts of fever. These occur as the parasites that cause malaria replicate in the bloodstream of infected people or animals, in preparation for being picked up by a biting mosquito.

Improving health worker performance through text messaging: A mixed-methods evaluation of a pilot intervention...

Christian Rassi et al.
Poor health worker performance is a well-documented obstacle to quality service provision. Due to the increasingly widespread availability of mobile devices, mobile health (mHealth) has received growing attention as a service improvement tool. This pilot study explored feasibility, acceptability and outcomes of an mHealth intervention designed to increase coverage of intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in pregnancy (IPTp) in two districts of West Nile, Uganda.

Upcoming Events 

5th Global Symposium on Health Systems Research
October 8-12,  Liverpool, United Kingdom
Theme: Advancing health systems for all in the SDG area.

World Sight Day
October 11, 2018
World Sight Day (WSD) is an annual day of awareness held on the second Thursday of October, to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment. This year, the "Call to Action" for World Sight Day is "Eye Care Everywhere."

World Health Summit
October 14-16, Berlin, Germany
Central topics for this year's meeting will include pandemic preparedness, sustainable development goals, and access to essential medicines.

Neglected Tropical Diseases Congress: The Future Challenges
October 15-17, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
The conference includes prompt presentations, special sessions, workshops, symposium, oral talks, poster presentations and exhibitions. We expect your kind presence at the conference which will discuss the recent emerging diseases, outbreaks, categories, epidemiology, diagnosis, therapeutics etc.

Collaborations Addressing Vulnerable Populations Forum
October 16-17, Herndon, Virginia
The Collaborations Addressing Vulnerable Populations (CAVP) Forum is a platform dedicated to the steps being made across the biomedical landscape to provide healthcare solutions to populations that represent an unmet medical need. The CAVP Forum will provide attendees with the opportunity to attend sessions from five unique tracks. We will highlight how drug repurposing can alleviate development costs, discuss different ways to ensure access to safe and cost-affective drugs, examine regulatory pathways and incentives targeting rare and neglected tropical diseases, and explore public–private partnerships that support the development of new treatments for vulnerable populations.

The Roadmap to Echinococcosis Control in Peru: Review and Synthesis of the Evidence
October 16-18, Lima, Peru
The objectives of this workshop are to review the cystic echinococcosis situation in Latine American and Peru, to review state-of-the0art methodologies, and to evaluate the evidence generated by pilot projects. The workshop is being coordinated by the University of Surrey (UK) and the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos (Peru), and will have contributions from other leading researchers. We are now inviting Early Career Researchers (ECR) from the UK or Peru to apply to attend this workshop. All travel and accommodation expenses will be covered by the Research Links programme. Applications are welcome until 1 August. Successful candidates will be contacted in early August.

Conversations at The Carter Center: Seeing a Vibrant Future
October 18, Atlanta, Georgia
Trachoma is a leading cause of blindness, yet it is easily prevented with a readily available antibiotic, and its effects often can be halted with a short surgical procedure. For 20 years, The Carter Center has helped lead the charge against trachoma, but we are not alone. Join us in person or watch the live webcast below to hear what the Center, the International Trachoma Initiative, and other partners are doing to control this painful disease and learn about Atlanta’s ever-expanding role in the battle to improve global health locally and abroad.

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.