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Partners Celebrate a Record-Breaking Year, Kenya Declared Free of Guinea Worm & 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 worker loads pills of diethylcarbamazine, used to treat lymphatic filariasis (LF), at the Eisai Pharmaceuticals plant in Visakhapatnam, India, during the record attempt.


Lymphatic filariasis

Mosquitoes and the Lymphatic Filarial Parasites: Research Trends and Budding Roadmaps to Future Disease Eradication

Damilare O. Famakinde
Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease
The current speed in the war against mosquito-transmitted diseases is moving with an increasing energy. It is, however, clear that mosquito–filaria research has not been extensively explored, perhaps because some well-developed and advanced toolkits are still not in use. For instance, there are still indications that the genetic factors influencing mosquito resistance or susceptibility to filarial parasites have not been fully probed, but achieving this will require harnessing more advanced techniques and technologies.

Eradication of lymphatic filariasis: Local bodies to give assistance to health department

Aswin J. Kumarl
Times of India
The state government has asked all gram panchayats, municipalities and corporations in Palakkad and Malappuram districts to give financial support to the health services department in their mass drug administration programme as part of the global eradication of lymphatic filariasis.


The interruption of Onchocerca volvulus and Wuchereria bancrofti transmission by integrated chemotherapy in the Obongi focus...

Lakwo Thomson Luroni et al.
Few studies have documented the interruption of onchocerciasis and Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) by integrated chemotherapy in Uganda. The study describes the interruption of transmission of the two diseases co-endemic in Obongi focus, north western Uganda ...The results concluded that interruption of onchocerciasis and LF has been achieved.


New Partnership to Fight Schistosomiasis

Farah Abidi
African Media Agency
Merck, a leading science and technology company, today officially signed a three-year partnership with the [NTD Advocacy, Learning, Action, or] NALA Foundation to create greater awareness of schistosomiasis in Ethiopia. The NALA Foundation, a non-governmental organization fighting against the root causes of Neglected Tropical Diseases, will support the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health by applying a community participatory approach. With this newly launched project, Merck is expanding its schistosomiasis-related health education and awareness activities in Africa.

MicroRNA-351 promotes schistosomiasis-induced hepatic fibrosis by targeting the vitamin D receptor

Xing He et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
This study provides insights into the mechanisms that result in schistosomiasis-related hepatic fibrosis and targets of intervention for schistosomiasis and other fibrotic diseases.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Current prevalence of intestinal parasitic infections and their impact on hematological and nutritional status among Karen hill

Jintana Yanola et al.
Acta Tropica
Intestinal parasitic infections are endemic in school-age children of Karen hill tribe population in Omkoi District. These data highlight the need for an integrated approach to control transmission of intestinal parasites and improve the health and sanitation status of Karen hill tribe children in Thailand.


The Biggest Cause Of Preventable Blindness Just Won’t Go Away

Tom Gardner
The Huffington Post
“It is a disease of poverty,” explained Teshome Gebre, the International Trachoma Initiative’s regional director for Africa, in his office in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. “You don’t find it in the developed world or even the developing world.”

Patient-centered communication of Community Treatment Assistants in Tanzania predicts coverage of future Mass Drug Administratio

Alexander Jenson et al.
Patient Education and Counseling
We studied communication patterns of workers distributing azithromycin for trachoma. Female health workers had more patient-centered communication. Patient-centered communication was associated with higher rates of villager return. Procedural communications were associated with less subsequent villager return. Health workers in the developing world must be trained on communication style.

The remote island solving the world’s most serious diseases

Jacqui Thornton
The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
The fact that these Atlantic islands are so untouched, and that they house many similar but contained environments due to minimal migration within the islands, makes them a unique study location for scientists, who can compare the success of different interventions on some islands against other islands acting as a control group. Seizing on this opportunity are researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine who have been visiting the islands for the last six years, focusing on trachoma – where it is being transmitted, how it could be controlled and the impact of mass treatment with antibiotics. These islands could be used as a disease and treatment model for the wider world, according to Dr Anna Last, Associate Professor of Infectious Diseases at the School.


207M/24 HRS: A Record-Breaking Year

Matshidiso Moeti
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Year in Review
The world is on the brink of scientific breakthroughs with the potential to dramatically shorten the path to elimination of some NTDs. These new treatments must get through the pipeline quickly and safely to have maximum effect. It can be slow going, but working collaboratively can help streamline the process. The World Health Organization did just that in 2017—and a new treatment for [lymphatic filariasis, or] LF was approved in record time.

From the fewest polio cases to the greatest contraceptive use—2017 saw a range of health milestones

Sue Desmond-Hellmann
Take neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), which affect one in five people in the world and cause death, disability, and disfigurement. In January, our partners achieved a Guinness World Records title for the most drugs donated in a day—more than 207 million doses. Since 2012, more than 7 billion drugs have been donated and delivered to treat NTDs in one of the largest and most effective health interventions in the world.

A Year of Unprecedented Success — and Partnership — against Neglected Tropical Diseases

Trevor Mundel
We need to strengthen joint efforts between stakeholders, along with increased support, to ensure the success of NTD programs in reaching the hardest-to-reach. We need more research collaborations to develop the best possible tools to beat these diseases and make them accessible to workers on the ground. And we need to continue to expand our definition of partnership, exploring how NTD initiatives can work in synergy with strong health systems and benefit other disease programs as well.

Opinion: How public-private partnerships are combatting NTDs

Matshidiso Moeti
Thanks to an innovative public-private partnership, we’ve seen remarkable progress against NTDs. In an unprecedented move, 13 of the largest pharmaceutical companies have pulled together under the auspices of the CEO Roundtable and are executing the largest drug donation in history. These companies have committed to donate enough drugs to completely eliminate 10 of the highest impact NTDs. Thus far, these companies have contributed more than $17.8 billion in donations.

Zimbabwe leads Africa in Mass Drug Administration

Thandeka Moyo
Zambezi Post
Zimbabwe will assess the impact of the Mass Drug Administration (MDA) programme after it was chosen as one of the best countries in implementing the programme in Africa. This year, the country rolled out the mass drug administration programme targeting four neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) which include bilharzia, elephantiasis, soil transmitted helminthiasis. MDA review committee chairperson Professor Nicholas Midzi commended all the provinces for the hard work they did to surpass the World Health Organization's (WHO) standards.

C’River State Health Sector Receives International Recognitions for Excellence in Health Insurance & NTDs Programming

It is worthy of note that the State health sector within the past two years has made significant progress in terms of healthcare delivery, with the most recent achievement being the success story from Bekwarra [local government area, or] LGA as the LGA pre-elimination status during the just concluded pre-transmission and actual transmission assessment survey for Lymphatic Filariasis even without completing the five rounds of treatment.

Success as 1 billion treated in battle against painful tropical diseases

Inna Lazareva
More than one billion people were treated in 2016 for painful infections, such as sleeping sickness and elephantiasis, as increased funding, drug donations and political will helped health workers reach patients in remote areas, it said. “There are hundreds of millions more people getting treated now than five years ago,” Ellen Agler, head of the END Fund, a philanthropic initiative to combat Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD), told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in emailed comments. “Effective partnerships and efficient systems to get medicines to those most in need have been built.”

Promoting private sector involvement in neglected tropical disease research and development

Jeremy Barofsky and Jake Schneider
Brookings Institute
After rapid decreases in the burden of disease in the developing world since 2000, funding for global health treatment and research has plateaued or is in decline. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization estimates that $150 billion is required to restore the pipeline of drugs for neglected tropical disease (NTDs) and Tuberculosis to the necessary levels. Recent research from West, Villasenor and Schneider finds that only $5.6 billion is currently spent on overall global health research and development (R&D) annually.


Global health team says Kenya is Guinea-worm free

Business Daily Africa
The last known local case was diagnosed in Kenya in 1994 but the country could not be granted 'guinea worm free' status since it was yet to meet certain required standards. Experts from the International Certification Team on guinea worm disease (ICT) were then invited to the country to assess local health officials' claim that there have been no new transmissions since. "After our assessment these past three weeks, we can now comfortably declare that Kenya is free from the disease as we found no evidence of active transmission in the country," said Dr Ashok Kumar, a member of the ICT team said Monday during the launch of its findings from the assessment.

Drug resistance and treatment failure in leishmaniasis: A 21st century challenge

Alicia Ponte-Sucre
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Reevaluation of treatment guidelines for Old and New World leishmaniasis is urgently needed on a global basis because treatment failure is an increasing problem. Drug resistance is a fundamental determinant of treatment failure, although other factors also contribute to this phenomenon, including the global HIV/AIDS epidemic with its accompanying impact on the immune system ...sodium stibogluconate (SSG) treatment failure (TF) offers a challenge to our efforts to control the leishmaniases. Several factors have contributed to diminished efficacy of drugs registered for use against these diseases, including changes in host immunity associated with the global HIV/AIDS epidemic and a changing demography in the range of the disease.

Financial burden of health care for Buruli ulcer patients in Nigeria: the patients’ perspective

Joseph N. Chukwu et al.
International Health
This was a cross-sectional cost of illness study conducted among patients with Buruli ulcer in four States in Nigeria between July and September 2015. A structured questionnaire was used to collect data on the patients’ characteristics, household income and out-of-pocket costs of care. . . The direct costs of Buruli ulcer care were catastrophic for 50% of all patients/households – the rates of catastrophic costs for Buruli ulcer care was 66% and 19% for patients belonging to the lowest and highest income quartiles, respectively.

Dengue and yellow fever virus vectors: seasonal abundance, diversity and resting preferences in three Kenyan cities

Sheila B. Agha et al.
Parasites & Vectors
The presence and abundance of Ae. aegypti near human habitations and dwellings, especially in Kilifi/Kisumu, is suggestive of increased [dengue virus, or] DENV transmission risk due to higher prospects of human vector contact. Despite low abundance of Ae. bromeliae suggestive of low [yellow fever virus, or] YFV transmission risk, its proximity to human habitation as well as the observed diversity of potential YFV vectors should be of public health concern and monitored closely for targeted control.

The mosquitoes that are fighting dengue and Zika

Vaishnavi Chandrashekhar
Described by one scientist as “the biggest thing since DDT”, the use of Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes has become the most widespread of the new vector control experiments, with lab studies or field trials now underway in a dozen countries. The enthusiasm is understandable: Wolbachia seems like the perfect weapon against mosquito-borne disease.

Why some sites are responding better to anti-malarial interventions? A case study from western Kenya

Anthony Kapesa et al.
Malaria Journal
The malaria vector species composition shift, insecticide resistance and climatic warming were the likely cause of the contrasting outcome of malaria intervention in western Kenya. Surveillance of malaria parasite and vector dynamics along with insecticide resistance and vector biting behaviour monitoring are highly recommended in these areas.

Improving local health through community health workers in Cambodia: challenges and solutions

Kim Ozano, Padam Simkhada, Khem Thann and Rose Khatri
Human Resources for Health
The fragmented delivery of the [community health worker, or] CHW programme in Cambodia means that government ownership is minimal. This, coupled with the lack of defined core training programme or adequate resources, prevents CHWs from reaching their potential. CHWs have positive and realistic ideas on how to improve their role and, subsequently, the health of community members. CHWs presented with the opportunity to share learning and develop ideas in a supportive environment would benefit health initiatives.

A modest amount of American money can help the world’s poorest countries

Eric Ottesen and Peter Hotez
The Hill
Today, the USAID NTD Program represents the very best in American ingenuity and thrift. It shows how a modest amount of American taxpayer money can be leveraged into a game-changing assault on poverty in the world’s poorest countries, as well as here at home.

Upcoming Events

African Union Summit
January 22-19, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) will take place from 22nd to 29th January 2018, under the theme “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”.

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

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

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

Eradicate Malaria World Congress 2018
July 1-5,  Melbourne, Australia
The inaugural World Congress on Malaria - Eradicate Malaria 2018 - will bring together the broad global community including implementers, scientists, funders, governments, policy makers and those directly affected by the disease. The aim is to bring the broad spectrum of the malaria world together for the first time, to further galvanise the effort for the eradication of malaria.

NNN 2018 
September 24-26, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
We are delighted to announce the dates for the 9th NNN annual conference, subject to venue availability.

Women Deliver 2019 Conference 
June 3-6, 2018, Vancouver, Canada
The Women Deliver 2019 Conference – the world’s largest gathering on the health, rights, and wellbeing of women and girls – will serve as a fueling station for advocates working to achieve a more gender equal world. In the summer of 2019, over 6,000 world leaders, influencers, advocates, academics, activists, and journalists will flock to Vancouver with dreams of accelerating progress girls and women everywhere.