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Mass Dog Vaccinations Linked to Decrease in Human Rabies, New GHIT Funding Announced for Chagas and Leishmaniasis & 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.  

Rabies Study in EurekAlert!

Mass dog vaccination has become the primary means of reducing the incidence of canine rabies in Latin America and globally.


Lymphatic filariasis

Systems analysis-based assessment of post-treatment adverse events in lymphatic filariasis

Britt J. Andersen et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
This is the first global study of changes in gene expression associated with [adverse events, or] AEs after treatment of lymphatic filariasis. Changes in cytokines were consistent with prior studies and with the RNAseq data. These results suggest that Wolbachia lipoprotein is involved in AE development, because it activates TLR2-TLR6 and downstream NF-κB. Additionally, LPS Binding Protein (LBP, which shuttles lipoproteins to TLR2) increased post-treatment in individuals with AEs. Improved understanding of the pathogenesis of AEs may lead to improved management, increased MDA compliance, and accelerated LF elimination.

An Enhanced Self-Care Protocol for People Affected by Moderate to Severe Lymphedema

Janet Douglass, Hayley E. Mableson, Sarah Martindale and Louise A. Kelly-Hope
MDPI Methods and Protocols
Enhanced self-care activities were chosen on the basis that they would not add financial burden to patients or their families and included recommendations to perform deep-breathing exercises and self-massage, drink clean water, and eat fresh fruits and vegetables. The enhanced-care protocol was developed in collaboration with implementing partners in both countries and may be applicable in other populations affected by lower-limb lymphedema.

Union Health Ministry to introduce Mass Drug Administration programme in Karnataka

Medical Dialogues (India)
The Health Ministry has planned to introduce a Mass Drug Administration (MDA) progrmme, similar to Triple Drug Therapy, in Yadgir district of Karataka, scheduled to take place in November 2019.


Disaster Prevention: FG Interrupts River BlindnessTransmission in Endemic States

Enefaa Bob-Manuel
PR Nigeria
The Federal Ministry of Health has announced that Onchocerciasis (River Blindness disease) has been interrupted in Plateau, Nasarawa and Kaduna States; while transmission of the disease is suspected to have been interrupted in Zamfara, Kebbi, Oyo and Bauchi States.

A devastating illness rocked Uganda, then disappeared. Disabled children — and a mystery — remain

Jaquelyn Corley
There’s much debate about the cause of the disease. Nodding syndrome occurs in the same areas where river blindness is also prevalent, and this association has led some researchers to believe that the same parasitic nematode, Onchocerca volvulus, may be a culprit in both illnesses. But O. volvulus is not known to invade the central nervous system, so it’s unlikely to be responsible for the neurodegenerative process that occurs in patients with nodding syndrome. Another theory is that the syndrome is caused by a virus carried by the black fly, the same vector as with river blindness.


Schistosomiasis: the unfamiliar disease that increases HIV risk

Felicia Wong
Frontline AIDS
Female genital schistosomiasis is the most neglected gynaecological condition in the world. It’s thought that as many as 46 million women have FGS. That’s the entire population of Kenya. The number of people successfully treated for TB ever. The number of articles on Wikipedia. Working on FGS can be a game changer for preventing HIV among adolescent girls and young women – might this be the missing link for HIV prevention? Not only will they have a better chance of avoiding HIV infection, they will also have a better chance of not being infected with schistosomiasis. This is a win-win situation.

Child-friendly drug boosts war against bilharzia

Nasibo Kabale
Daily Nation (Kenya)
A big, bitter tablet will no longer stand in the way of bilharzia treatment for children aged six years and below. Bilharzia is one of the most prevalent parasitic diseases worldwide. . . Merck Group’s Head of Corporate Affairs, Senior Vice President, Dr Petra Wicklandt says there is hope that children under six in Kenya could soon access a more suitable drug. She said the formulation of a small, orally dispersible tablet with an acceptable taste is within reach thanks to a partnership between Merck and Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri).

Is there a gap between health education content and practice toward schistosomiasis prevention among schoolchildren. . ?

Rie Takeuchi et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
In Kenya, despite preventive measures against schistosomiasis such as mass drug administration (MDA) in primary schools, [schistosomiasis] remains a major public health problem, especially along the shores of Lake Victoria. . . From the school health viewpoint, it is necessary to develop health education contents and teaching methods that reflect the social and cultural context of the community in order to improve their behaviour and change the social norm.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Ultraviolet sensitivity of WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) -related helminths: A systematic review

Lucinda Hazell, Laura Braun and Michael R. Templeton
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
There has been very little research into the UV sensitivity of helminths; only 47 studies were included in this review and the majority were carried out before the standard protocol for UV disinfection experiments was published. . . This review confirms that further research is required to produce detailed recommendations for household or community scale UV-C LED or solar disinfection (SODIS) of water for preventing helminthiases.

State of deworming coverage and equity in low-income and middle-income countries using household health surveys. . .

Nathan C. Lo et al.
The Lancet Global Health
Substantial inequities in mass deworming programmes are common as wealthier populations have consistently higher coverage than that of the poor, including in countries reporting to have reached the WHO goal of more than 75% national coverage. These inequities seem to be geographically heterogeneous, modestly improving over time, with no evidence of sex differences in inequity. Future reporting of deworming coverage should consider disaggregation by geography, wealth, and sex with incorporation of an equity index to complement the conventional public health metric of national deworming coverage.

A cluster-randomised controlled trial comparing school and community-based deworming for soil transmitted helminth control. . .

Naomi E. Clarke et al.
BMC Infectious Diseases
The first large-scale trial comparing mass and targeted deworming for [soil-transmitted helminthiasis, or] STH control in South East Asia will provide key information for policy makers regarding the optimal design of STH control programs.


Antibiotics for trachoma

Jennifer R. Evans et al.
Cochrane Library
Antibiotic treatment may reduce the risk of active trachoma and ocular infection in people infected with C trachomatis, compared to no treatment/placebo, but the size of the treatment effect in individuals is uncertain. Mass antibiotic treatment with single dose oral azithromycin reduces the prevalence of active trachoma and ocular infection in communities. There is no strong evidence to support any variation in the recommended periodicity of annual mass treatment. There is evidence of an increased risk of antibiotic resistance at 12 months in communities treated with antibiotics.


Global update on implementation of preventive chemotherapy against neglected tropical diseases in 2018

World Health Organization
In 2018, 74 countries reported on implementation of PC for at least 1 of the 5 diseases, and 1.120 billion individuals received treatment for at least 1 disease. 551.9 million were treated for LF, 149.4 million for ONCHO, 571.8 million for STH, 93.7 million for SCH and 89.1 million for TRA. During MDA campaigns in 2018, more than 1.7 billion treatments were distributed.

Health ministers to gather in Washington to set policies, priorities for health action in the Americas

Bahamas Weekly
Health ministers and other high-level delegates from the Americas [opened] a week-long meeting here on Sept. 30 to discuss health priorities and plans of action at the Pan American Health Organization’s 57th Directing Council. Top health authorities from North, South and Central America as well as the Caribbean will seek agreement on regional strategies and plans that address their common and most pressing health challenges. These include a plan to reduce heart disease by eliminating industrially produced trans-fatty acids, a strategy to make access to organ, tissue and cell transplants more equitable, and a plan to improve the quality of care in health services delivery.

Neglected Tropical Diseases: Accelerated Action Will Rout Them Altogether

Poonam Khetrapal Singh
The New Nation (Bangladesh)
The WHO South-East Asia Region has made remarkable strides in its quest to eliminate neglected tropical diseases. India is yaws-free. Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand have eliminated lymphatic filariasis. Nepal has eliminated trachoma, while Indonesia has reduced the prevalence of schistosomiasis to very low levels. Leprosy-endemic countries across the Region are detecting and treating the disease earlier than ever.

U.S. agency spends $50m on neglected diseases in Nigeria

Anietie Akpan
Guardian (Nigeria)
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) said it had spent about $50 million to its flagship ENVISION Project for the control and elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) in Nigeria since 2011. . .“In the past four years, we have also demonstrated this success in seven out of the 10 local councils endemic for lymphatic filariasis in Cross River State. . . In other words, if we jointly push further with additional resources, we will take lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis out of Cross River State and the people will be better for it,” [Ben Nwobi] said .

Neglected tropical disease as a 'biographical disruption': Listening to the narratives of affected persons. . .

Laura Dean et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
This is one of the first studies to use narrative approaches to interrogate experience of chronic disabling conditions within [low- and middle-income countries, or] LMICs and is the only study to apply such an analysis to [neglected tropical diseases, or] NTDs. The emotive power of narrative should be utilised to influence the value base of policy makers to ensure that [disease management, disability and inclusion, or] DMDI strategies respond holistically to the needs of the most marginalised, thus contributing to more equitable people-centred care.

The division of labour between community medicine distributors influences the reach of mass drug administration. . .

Goylette F. Chami, Narcis B. Kabatereine and Edridah M. Tukahebwa
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
An equitable distribution of labour between [community medicine distributors, or] CMDs may be essential for achieving treatment targets of 65%/75% within community-based [mass drug administration, or] MDA. To improve the effectiveness of CMDs, national programmes should explore interventions that seek to facilitate communication, friendship, and equal partnership between CMDs.

ENVISION Technical Brief Series

Lisa Rotondo
Over the past eight years, USAID's ENVISION Project has explored many new frontiers as we've worked alongside governments in advancing their NTD control and elimination efforts. We've helped national health systems complete their baseline mapping and scale-up MDA with high-quality, and increasingly supported the important work of tracking progress through surveys and assessments. The project has also served as a sort of ground truth for global NTD policy and guidance, facilitating programmatic learning and operational research that reach far beyond our immediate footprint. We've learned a lot along the way.


Dog rabies vaccination programs affect human exposure, prophylaxis use

Jonathan Yoder
The World Health Organization has made it a goal to eliminate human rabies deaths due to dog bites by the year 2030. An increase in dog rabies vaccination rates decreases dog rabies cases, human exposure, and human deaths, researchers now report in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. . . "The findings highlight the critical importance of mass dog vaccination, heightened public awareness, treatment access, and the use of clinical algorithms to reduce both false negatives leading to death and false positives leading to costly unnecessary PEP prescriptions," the researchers say.

GHIT Fund Announces New Investments: A Total of 630 Million Yen in Drugs for Malaria, Tuberculosis, Chagas Disease. . .

Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund
PR Newswire
The Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund announced today a total of 630 million yen (US$5.9 million*) to invest in eight partnerships to develop new lifesaving drugs, vaccines and diagnostics for malaria, tuberculosis, Chagas disease and leishmaniasis. This includes six new projects and two that will receive continued funding.

Conference Emphasises Need for Partnerships to Create a World Without Leprosy

Stella Paul
Inter Press Service
At the first day of the 20th International Leprosy Congress (ILC), being held in Manila, Philippines, the chairperson of The Nippon Foundation (TNF) called for activists, scholars and those affected the globe over, to rally behind the goal of a world free of stigma, discrimination and violation of human rights of those affected by leprosy. The ILC, which [ended] Sep 13, is supported by TNF sister organisation the Sasakawa Health Foundation (SHF). Sharing his experiences, he recalled how he, TNF and SHF lobbied the United Nations to recognise the elimination of stigma against leprosy-affected people as a human rights issue.

A glimmer of hope in the fight against a flesh-eating 'silent killer'

Sarah Newey
The Telegraph
Fungal mycetoma – dubbed a “silent killer” – is an infection that burrows into the limbs of its victims, causing massive swelling and peppering patients with lesions and sores. It can lead to disability, limb amputation or – in extreme cases – death. . . But that might all be about to change; scientists in Sudan are halfway through the world’s first clinical trial to develop drugs that could give patients a more realistic chance of recovering from the devastating infection.

Is the Era of SMS Dead? Long Live Interactive Voice Response!

Wayan Vota
The death of SMS text messages has been foretold many times in the past. However, they are still the best low-tech way to reach everyone with a mobile phone. Or so we often believe. New experiences by technologists in Africa and South Asia suggest SMS texts may finally be on the way out. . . When IDinsight tried to send SMS text messages to farmers in India, they found that over 26% – a surprising number to them – were registered on India’s “Do Not Disturb” database, which prohibits broadcast messages and mass campaigns from directly contacting them without their written consent.

What does the next 25 years hold for global health?

David Mabey
The BMJ Opinion
Going forward, I believe that we need to look at how these challenges interlink. From climate change and infectious diseases, to antimicrobial resistance, [non-communicable diseases, or] NCDs, and [neglected tropical diseases, or] NTDs, the emerging global health mega-trends we face cross disciplines and sectors. As we know, diseases and challenges in global health do not exist in silos and if we are to overcome the biggest threats to global health over the next 25 years it will require working together.

Massive open online course (MOOC) on implementation research: infectious diseases of poverty

Implementation research (IR) is important for designing strategies or solutions to overcome bottlenecks that prevent proven and innovative public health interventions from reaching the people who need them. This ensure that these interventions are used in a manner that results in the outcome for which they were intended. Such solutions include how to overcome barriers to adoption of drugs, diagnostics or preventive measures that improve health for people at risk of malaria, tuberculosis, NTDs or other infectious diseases. IR can help to ensure that health solutions reach the people who need them and are used in ways that generate intended results. Deadline to register: 4 October 2019

Upcoming Events

World Sight Day
October 10
World Sight Day—the most important advocacy and communications day in the eye health calendar—is on 10 October 2019. When was the last time you got an eye exam? Your family, friends and colleagues? This World Sight Day, let’s pledge to take an eye exam—and encourage others to do the same! We have the data and evidence. We also have projections into the future–an ageing world population, myopia and diabetic retinopathy are set to increase vision impairment in the coming decades.

Sustainability & Development Conference
October 11-14, Ann Arbor, MI
The conference is supported by several University of Michigan departments, as well as the journal World Development. It will cover a suite of key themes related tosustainability and development, but broadly focuses on the many global efforts to realize the SDGs and to assess the outcomes of SDG interventions.

Sustainability & Development Conference
October 11-14, Ann Arbor, MI
The conference is supported by several University of Michigan departments, as well as the journal World Development. It will cover a suite of key themes related tosustainability and development, but broadly focuses on the many global efforts to realize the SDGs and to assess the outcomes of SDG interventions.

VIII Annual Atlanta Summit on Global Health: Cities and Health
October 14, Atlanta, GA
Explore the theme of urban environments and health, including HIV/AIDS, non-communicable and infectious diseases and digital health at the VIII Atlanta Summit Global Health: Cities & Health.

Triangle Global Health Annual Conference
October 16, Durham, NC
Join us for the 2019 Triangle Global Health Annual Conference on October 16 in Durham, North Carolina! Our 2019 theme is One Health: Creating our Shared Future. The program sessions will include a mix of speakers, panels, workshops, and poster sessions which showcase current One Health best practices and encourage attendees and presenters to engage around key issues impacting human, animal, and environmental health across a spectrum of application areas.  

World Health Summit
October 27 - 29, Berlin, Germany
Since it was launched in 2009, the World Health Summit has brought together stakeholders and decision-makers from every field in the healthcare spectrum, providing the perfect forum for exchange with experts from academia, industry, politics and civil society.

The Global FETP Enterprise: Applied Epidemiology in the 21st Century
October 28 - November 1, Atlanta, GA
The 10th TEPHINET Global Scientific Conference (with the theme, "The Global FETP Enterprise: Applied Epidemiology in the 21st Century") is a can’t-miss event that will give attendees an opportunity to engage with key players at the forefront of these various efforts, as we work together to shape our way forward.

ASTMH 68th Annual Meeting
November 20-24, National Harbor, Maryland
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. 

Epidemics7: International Conference on Infectious Disease Dynamics
December 3-6, Charleston, SC
Join us for the Seventh International Conference on Infectious Disease Dynamics to share another three days of intense dialogue on our ideas, data, insight, models and methods. This conference regularly attracts over 400 scientists, with representatives from many of the major research groups in this area worldwide. If you want to meet many of your peers in this field, this is the place to go. 

International Conference on NTDs in Africa (IncoNTD)
December 4-6, Nairobi, Kenya
The 1st  International Conference on NTDs (IncoNTD) in Africa seeks to bring together national and international stakeholders involved in the control and elimination of NTDs. IncoNTD is jointly organized by the African Research Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (ARNTD), the Kenya Ministry of Health (MoH), and the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), and will be held at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya from December 4 – 6, 2019. 

CHOGM 2020
June 2020, Kigali, Rwanda
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is a pivotal agenda-setting and decision-making space for the diverse community of 53 Commonwealth countries. With varying economic statuses and vast oceans between them, our leaders meet every two years to explore how they can pool their resources and innovations to transform joint challenges into exciting opportunities. In June 2020, Rwanda will host the meeting. Connected by similar traditions, language, governance and legal structures, presidents, prime ministers and monarchs, from Africa, the Caribbean and Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific, will travel to Kigali to reaffirm their common values and agree actions and policies to improve the lives of all their citizens.

11th IAPB General Assembly
October 12-14, 2020, Singapore
The General Assembly will mark the end of the VISION 2020: The Right to Sight period. It will present a great opportunity to take stock, celebrate successes and make plans for the future. A key focus will be on the WHO’s World Report on Vision and its framework for the future. The event will have three co-chairs leading on three streams: “Excellence”, “Eye Health in the West Pacific” and “Sustainability”. 

Expo 2020 Dubai: Global Best Practice Programme
October 20 2020 - April 10, 2021
Expo 2020 Dubai’s platform to showcase projects that have provided tangible solutions to the world’s biggest challenges. It will highlight simple but effective initiatives, which localise the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and can be adapted, replicated, and scaled to achieve an enhanced global impact.