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Nepal Eliminates Trachoma & 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.

RTI Nepal

Members of the survey team, Bishal Dhakal and Shravan Subedi, check the eye of Radha Thapa for clinical signs of trachoma. 


Lymphatic filariasis

Elimination of lymphatic filariasis as a public health problem from the Cook Islands

Charlie Ave, D Ramaiah Kapa and Eric Ottesen
Tropical Medicine and Health
The epidemiologic and treatment data presented in this paper and the points discussed above formed the basis of the LF elimination dossier prepared by the Cook Islands for submission to the WHO Western Pacific Regional Office in 2016 as evidence for the successful LF elimination program. That same year, after due diligence to the dossier, the persistence and energies of the MOH were rewarded with WHO’s official acknowledgement of the successful validation of elimination of LF as a public health problem from the Cook Islands.

Elucidation of immunological response and its regulatory network by P-TUFT-ALT-2: a promising vaccine for human LF

Rajkumar Paul, Sandeep Jaiswal, Natarajan Mahalakshmi and Perumal Kaliraj
Royal Society Open Science
Anti-parasitic drugs are successful to control parasitic diseases. However, these have only microfilaricidal effect without any impact on the larval or adult worms even after prolonged application. Hence, control of the disease requires effective vaccine development approaches along with drugs. Tuftsin, a natural tetrapeptide of threonine–lysine–proline–arginine is a well-recognized potential immuno-potentiator to enhance the immunogenic response of various antigens. P-TUFT-ALT-2 (fusion protein of Tuftsin and ALT-2) had already shown enhanced immunogenic response in an experimental mice model in our previous study (R.P. unpublished data). These findings endorse P-TUFT-ALT-2 as a potential vaccine candidate for human lymphatic filariasis.

Campaign against filariasis in 21 districts

Ayesha Hassani
The Times of India
The [Bihar] state health department will initiate mass drug administration (MDA) against lymphatic filariasis in 21 districts, including Patna, from June 18 this year. All 38 districts in the state have been marked as an endemic zone for lymphedema under National Vector-Borne Disease Control Programme functioning under central government’s Directorate General of Health Services.


Interruption of onchocerciasis transmission in Bioko Island: from control to elimination in Equatorial Guinea

Zaida Herrador et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Bioko Island (Equatorial Guinea) is the only island endemic for onchocerciasis in the world. Since 2005, when vector Simulium yahense was eliminated, there have not been any reported cases of infection. This study aimed to demonstrate that updated WHO criteria for stopping mass drug administration (MDA) have been met.

Onchocerciasis prevalence, human migration and risks for onchocerciasis elimination in Burkina Faso

Archille S. Nikièma et al.
Acta Tropica
In this publication we report a new epidemiological survey for onchocerciasis which was carried out in 2014 in the Upper Mouhoun, Nakambé and Nazinon river basins in Burkina Faso to evaluate the prevalence and intensity of infection of onchocerciasis. The results clearly indicate that infected persons coming from endemic zones of Côte d’Ivoire are settling in small communities which are otherwise nearly free from onchocerciasis in Burkina Faso. They are thus a source of continuing re-introduction of the parasite into the basins and could be a risk for the achievement of onchocerciasis elimination in all three basins.


Searching for the secrets of the schistosome skin

These worms can live in the bloodstream for decades, even if the host has a healthy immune system. This ability to evade the immune system is thought to be partly due to the worm’s special ‘skin’, a tissue referred to as the tegument that all parasitic flatworms have. The tegument is a massive cell that covers the entire surface of the worm, and is thought to be an adaptation that enabled flatworms to become parasites.

Infectious Thoughts Interviews: Dr. Eliana Nakano (Instituto Butantan São Paulo)

Marianne Comparet
The International Society for Neglected Tropical Diseases
Dr. Eliana Nakano is a Researcher in the Parasitology Lab at São Paulo's Instituto Butantan, researching new drugs to treat schistosomiasis, mainly from natural sources. In recent research, Dr. Nakano has worked on exploring the role of Brazilian marine macroalgae in schistosomiasis control. We caught up with Dr. Nakano and find out more about her current research, ongoing gaps and challenges in the control of schistosomiasis and future collaborations needed to accelerate research in this field.

[VIDEO] SCI - an Introduction

Schistosomiasis Control Initiative
What is schistosomiasis? Who are SCI? What do they do? Find out by watching their latest video.

Risk factors for schistosomiasis in an urban area in northern Côte d’Ivoire

Richard K. M'Bra et al.
Infectious Diseases of Poverty
The aim of this study was to assess the relationship between the prevalence of schistosomiasis and access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and environmental and socioeconomic factors in the city of Korhogo, northern Côte d'Ivoire. A cross-sectional study including 728 randomly selected households was conducted in Korhogo in March 2015. Boys were 7.8 times more likely to be infected with S. mansoni than girls. Children between 10 and 15 years of age were 3.8 times more likely to be infected than their younger counterparts aged 5-10 years.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

How do STH Control Programs move forward? Balancing guidelines and recommendations for future proofing on-the-ground experiences

Russell Stothard
To regress poverty and impoverishment, there is no single ingredient (e.g. guideline) or recipe (e.g. recommendations) but rather a careful consideration on how the future world might judge us if our actions on worm control were curtailed or even stalled. We advise that [soil-transmitted helminthiasis, or] STH control program managers should value all evidence and balance this with their own experiences on-the-ground to better guide them.

Soil‐transmitted helminth infections associated with wastewater and sludge reuse: A review of current evidence

Isaac Dennis Amoah, Anthony Ayodeji Adegoke and Thor Axel Stenström
Tropical Medicine & International Health
Epidemiological evidence reveals an increased prevalence of [soil-transmitted helminthiasis, or] STH infections associated with direct exposure to wastewater or sludge (farmers) and consumption of vegetables grown on soil treated with it. This calls for increased efforts to reduce the adverse health impact of wastewater and sludge reuse in line with the WHO multi‐barrier approach.

Prevalence of Strongyloides stercoralis infection and other soil-transmitted helminths by cross-sectional survey in a Rwanda

Aloys Tuyizere et al.
Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene
Strongyloides stercoralis is highly prevalent among an at-risk population residing in a rural area in the Gisagara District, Southern Province, Rwanda, with an estimated prevalence of 17.7% by agar plate culture (APC) upon analyzing a single stool sample. The examination of multiple stool samples with multiple diagnostic methods would likely lead to an even higher detected prevalence. Upgrading of laboratory detection facilities for [soil transmitted helminthiases, or] STHs and provision of efficacious treatment (in particular, ivermectin) should be public health priorities for Rwanda.


Nepal: first country in South-East Asia validated for eliminating trachoma

World Health Organization
The World Health Organization (WHO) has validated Nepal for having eliminated trachoma as a public health problem – a milestone, as the country becomes the first in WHO’s South-East Asia Region to defeat the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness. “This remarkable achievement demonstrates what political commitment and sustained partner support can do,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “It is a big step towards health for everyone and comes at a time when Nepal accelerates its fight against other neglected tropical diseases.”

A beautiful sight: Trachoma Elimination in Nepal

Lisa Rotondo
Trachoma can and IS being eliminated. A decade ago, more than 10 million people in Nepal were at risk for trachoma. Today, I have the immense pleasure of congratulating the Government of Nepal on the elimination of trachoma as a public health problem, and I must say, it’s a beautiful sight.

This Man Overcame a Neglected Tropical Disease You've Probably Never Heard Of

Jackie Marchildon
Global Citizen
Yaya Manneh is a 75-year-old community leader in Mariama Kunda village in The Gambia, near the country’s capital of Banjul. As an elder, Manneh would regularly tour his village to check in with all of its residents, but when he contracted trachoma a few years ago, he was in so much pain that he was no longer able to perform his usual tasks. This is his story.


Selection, access and use of in vitro diagnostics

World Health Organization
The World Health Organization (WHO) has established a Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on In Vitro Diagnostics (SAGE IVD) to act as an advisory body to matters of global policies and strategies related to in vitro diagnostics (IVDs). The first edition of the WHO Model List of Essential In Vitro Diagnostics (EDL) was launched on the 15 May 2018.

Ten Years Later: The END Fund Launches Its Impact Report of NTD Progress in Rwanda

African Media Agency
A decade after the ground-breaking launch of the National Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) program in Rwanda, the END Fund revisits the East African country to critically reflect on progress as well as to chart its next phase of investments to help the continent unlock its potential by ending these preventable diseases. Over four days, from May 17 to 20, in the Rwandan capital Kigali, a visiting delegation of the END Fund’s Board, investors, and supporters hosts a high-level group of partners including government officials, private sector leaders, and change-makers at the site of one of its biggest successes in combating NTDs to discuss what is needed to reach the end of these diseases in Rwanda.

Live webcast from Seventieth World Health Assembly (WHA70)

World Health Organization
Many sessions of the World Health Assembly will be available by live webcast between 22–31 May 2017.

Tedros Makes His Case for a Transformed WHO

Brian W. Simpson
Global Health NOW
In Monday's opening of the 71st World Health Assembly, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the case for WHO’s relevance and argued forcefully for his strategic vision for the organization’s future. “An institution charged with defending the health of 7 billion people … bears great responsibility, and must be held to high standards. You have high expectations of WHO. So you should; so do I,” Tedros said at the beginning of his speech.

UK pledges £1 million to UAE-fund for tropical diseases

Dubai Eye
The United Kingdom has pledged to donate £1 million (AED 5 million) to a [United Arab Emirates, or] UAE-led fund that seeks to control neglected tropical diseases. The ‘Reaching the Last Mile Fund’ was set up by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE’s Armed Forces. It seeks to treat river blindness and lymphatic filariasis in seven priority countries (Ethiopia, Yemen, Senegal, Chad, Mali, Sudan and Niger).

Mosquito saliva alone has profound effects on the human immune system

Megan B. Vogt et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Mosquito saliva is a very complex concoction of >100 proteins, many of which have unknown functions. The effects of mosquito saliva proteins injected into our skin during blood feeding have been studied mainly in mouse models of injection or biting, with many of these systems producing results that may not be relevant to human disease. Here, the authors describe the numerous effects that mosquito bites have on human immune cells in mice engrafted with human hematopoietic stem cells.

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Awarded 2018 Bill Foege Global Health Award

The Carter Center
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter received the 2018 Bill Foege Global Health Award for their commitment to prevent needless suffering and build hope for millions of the world’s poorest people through their work in global health. The award was presented by MAP International on Wednesday, May 9, 2018, at the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta.

Kenya Plans To Eliminate Trachoma, Elephantiasis, Syphilis, Others

The Independent (Kenya)
Kenya on Thursday announced an elaborate plan to eliminate trachoma, elephantiasis, mother to child transmission of HIV and congenital syphilis. Ms Sicily Kariuki, the Cabinet Secretary for Health, said the government had formed teams to work on modalities of helping eradicate tropical neglected diseases. “The elimination of Guinea worm and smallpox in the country is an indication that these diseases to can be eliminated,’’ Kariuki told journalists in Nairobi.


Lymphoedema management to prevent acute dermatolymphangioadenitis in podoconiosis in northern Ethiopia (GoLBeT): a pragmatic RCT

Henok Negussie, Meseret Molla et al.
The Lancet Global Health
We did a pragmatic randomised controlled trial at health posts and health centres in 18 sub-districts of Aneded woreda (district) in Amhara, northern Ethiopia. We randomly allocated patients (at a 1:1 ratio) to either the intervention group (who received instructions for foot hygiene, skin care, bandaging, exercises, and use of socks and shoes, and support by lay Community Podoconiosis Agents at monthly meetings) or the control group (who received no intervention). The ratio of incidence rate in the intervention group to that of the control group was 0·81 (0·74 to 0·89; p<0·0001), with a rate difference of −4·5 (−5·1 to −3·8) episodes per person-year. No serious adverse events related to the intervention were reported.

[COMMENT] Integrated care programme for acute episodes in patients with podoconiosis

Sarah C. Hogan and L. Claire Fuller
The Lancet Global Health
In their article in The Lancet Global Health, Henock Negussie and colleagues describe their randomised control trial to investigate the effect of a lymphoedema management package on outcomes in patients with podoconiosis. The results of the GoLBeT trial support the need for further integrated care programmes aimed at improving foot protection and foot care in all patients with lymphoedema. This initiative would have the added benefit of protecting the target population from other neglected health risks, such as soil-transmitted helminths and envenomation from snake bites.

Striking Back: Snakebites Gain Global Attention

Global Health
The reality is that snakebite kills over 100,000 people every year and leaves 400,000 more with significant disabilities, such as amputated limbs and blindness. Given that most snakebite victims never make it to a health facility to be counted, these figures are believed to be a gross underrepresentation of the true burden. Agricultural workers and children living in impoverished rural areas in Africa, Asia and Latin America are hardest hit.

Stanford researchers uncover the high levels of dangerous tapeworm infection in Chinese province

Sean Chen
The Stanford Daily
A recent Stanford study led by infectious diseases instructor at the Stanford School of Medicine John Openshaw has uncovered high levels of tapeworm infections among elementary schoolers in the western portion of China’s Sichuan province. “While historically researchers have studied adults with this disease, the burden on kids and what that burden means for affected countries in terms of lost productivity and lost income in unknown,” Openshaw said in an interview with Stanford News. “We hope our work will fuel interest in figuring that out.”

Cherokee Nation lauded for hepatitis C elimination effort

Justin Juozapavicius
The Cherokees, the second-largest tribe in the U.S. after the Navajo Nation, started the hepatitis C screening program three years ago looking to screen 80,000 of its 350,000 citizens, mainly targeting those 20 to 65 because of their statistically higher chances of having the disease. More than half of the target group has been screened, with more than 1,300 citizens testing positive, and a 90 percent cure rate among those who have started treatment, the tribe says. CDC official John Ward, whose agency is providing technical assistance to the tribe, said the Cherokees are the first community to set such an ambitious goal to eliminate the disease. “It’s a trailblazing project for the entire country,” Ward said.

Detection of malaria sporozoites expelled during mosquito sugar feeding

Victor A Brugman et al.
Scientific Reports
The ability to rapidly detect the presence of infectious mosquitoes able to transmit malaria is of vital importance for surveillance, control and elimination efforts. Current methods principally rely on large-scale mosquito collections followed by labour-intensive salivary gland dissections or enzyme-linked immunosorbent (ELISA) methods to detect sporozoites. Using forced salivation, we demonstrate here that Anopheles mosquitoes infected with Plasmodium expel sporozoites during sugar feeding. Our results indicate that Whatman FTA cards could be used as a simple, effective and economical tool in enhancing field surveillance activities for malaria.

How to ethically conduct clinical research during public health emergencies

Shilo Rea
Following the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine established a committee to assess the clinical trials conducted in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. In a report entitled "Integrating Clinical Research into Epidemic Response: The Ebola Experience" the committee outlined ways to facilitate rapid, well-coordinated responses to future public health emergencies.

Upcoming Events

Genetic Diversity of NTD pathogens: LCNTDR Research Afternoon
May 23, London, UK
London Centre for Neglected Tropical Disease Research
Join the LCNTDR for an afternoon of research presentations hosted by the Natural History Museum. The research afternoon will be focusing on the genetic diversity of the pathogens responsible for neglected tropical diseases and how greater knowledge of this diversity can be a vital tool to their control. A full programme will be circulated once finalised.

MSF Scientific Days 2018
May 24-25, London, UK
Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres)
The MSF Scientific Days share the knowledge of what works in humanitarian medical programming. The aim is to help improve the quality of care provided to patients and populations by sharing research conducted in our field programmes.

Webinar: WHO Core Competencies in Africa
May 25, Online

The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness
To mark Africa Day on 25 May 2018, IAPB invites you to the webinar: WHO Core Competencies in Africa. Simona Manchiotti, Consultant WHO AFRO and Michael Gichangi, Head, Ophthalmic Services Unit, Ministry of Health, Kenya will be discussing the validation of “WHO Regional Core Competencies for Eye Heath Workers” in the Africa Region. IAPB Africa‘s Simon Day, will lead the conversation on this IAPB Webinar.

Social Network Interventions to Improve Targeting for Neglected Tropical Diseases
May 29, London, UK
Imperial College London 
In this talk, Dr. Goylette Chami will present some results from an ongoing study tracking ~25,000 people during routine mass drug administration in rural villages bordering Lake Victoria in Uganda. Analysing en masse distribution of preventive chemotherapies as a diffusion process on village social networks reveals information for the seeding and targeting of global health interventions that is in contrast to conventional medical approaches.

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.