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Proposals Requested for LF and Oncho Diagnostics & 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.




Community drug distributors, together with Kareen Atekem and Rogers Nditanchou from the research team, get ready to start work in the Njinguoet community.

Copyright: Sightsavers



Lymphatic filariasis

Supporting elimination of lymphatic filariasis in Samoa by predicting locations of residual infection using machine learning . .

Helen J Mayfield et al.
Scientific Reports
We show how a targeted sampling strategy using predictions from a geospatial model, combining random forests and geostatistics, can improve the sampling efficiency for identifying locations with high infection prevalence. . . . This study provides evidence that a 'one size fits all' approach is unlikely to yield optimal results when making programmatic decisions based on model predictions. Instead, model assumptions and definitions should be tailored to each situation based on the objective of the surveillance program.

Request for Proposals: Optimizing NTD diagnostics and sampling strategies for low-prevalence settings

Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center
The Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) Support Center, a program of The Task Force for Global Health, with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the COR-NTD grant, is soliciting proposals for: 1) Research targeting the near-term development of highly specific diagnostic markers, tools and technologies to monitor and evaluate programs aimed at lymphatic filariasis (LF) and onchocerciasis (oncho) in low-prevalence settings. 2) Research on application of epidemiological and statistical methods that maximize the programmatic effectiveness of survey sampling strategies to detect specific LF and oncho signals in low-prevalence settings.

Statistical methods for linking geostatistical maps and transmission models: Application to lymphatic filariasis in East Africa

Panayiota Touloupou, Renata Retkute, T. Déirdre Hollingsworth, and Simon E. F. Spencer
Spatial and Spatio-temporal Epidemiology
Motivated by this fact, we developed a Bayesian approach that combines fine-scale geostatistical maps of disease prevalence with transmission models to provide quantitative, spatially-explicit projections of the current and future impact of control programs against a disease. These estimates can then be used at a local level to identify the effectiveness of suggested intervention schemes and allow investigation of alternative strategies. The methodology has been applied to lymphatic filariasis in East Africa to provide estimates of the impact of different intervention strategies against the disease.

High levels of depressive symptoms among people with lower limb lymphoedema in Rwanda: a cross-sectional study

Maya Semrau, Gail Davey, Ursin Bayisenge, and Kebede Deribe
Transactions of The Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Levels of depressive symptoms were very high among people with lower limb lymphoedema in Rwanda, which should be addressed through holistic morbidity management and disability prevention services that integrate mental health, psychosocial and economic interventions alongside physical care.


Public consultation: Target Product Profiles for diagnostic tests to meet Onchocerciasis Elimination programme needs

World Health Organization
With more than 150 million doses of ivermectin distributed each year, the fight against onchocerciasis is a major international public health programme. Means to identify all populations in need of treatment are still required, and new diagnostics are needed to support all programmatic activities, especially in areas of low prevalence or low intensity of infection as well as to support evidence-based decisions to stop MDA when elimination of transmission of onchocerciasis is achieved. The World Health Organization (WHO) is asking for feedback on both TPPs. Feedback is invited from experts in the industry, product development, parasitologists, the scientific community, NTD programme personnel and other technicians currently implementing WHO recommended Onchocerciasis elimination strategies.

The fast-flowing journey to river blindness elimination

Ascend West and Central Africa
In 2020, the UK aid funded Ascend West and Central Africa programme supported the Liberian Ministry of Health to conduct river blindness (onchocerciasis) vector breeding site assessments (BSAs). This was the largest survey of its kind ever conducted by the national programme in Liberia.

River Blindness May Have Stopped Spreading in Most of the Americas

Rob Goodier
Reuters Health Information
The spread of river blindness, or onchocerciasis, may have been halted in nearly two-thirds of the 34,000 people who remain at risk in the Americas, new evidence suggests. (Users must sign up to access this free article.)


Praziquantel treatment coverage among school age children against Schistosomiasis and associated factors in Ethiopia. . .

Yilma Chisha et al.
BMC Infectious Diseases
Over all treatment coverage of PZQ against SCH in the present study was 75.5%. Although it is in accordance with WHO recommendation for Ethiopia, national programmatic improvements are necessary to achieve higher coverage in the future. To increase treatment coverage for PZQ against SCH in Ethiopia, school based training should target all schools. Moreover, mobilization, sensitization and implementation of the community wide treatment need to be improved.

Evaluating survey designs for targeting preventive chemotherapy against Schistosoma . . . .across sub-Saharan Africa. . .

Kimberly M Fornace et al.
Parasites & Vectors
Models identified marked differences in prevalence and spatial distributions between countries and species; however, results suggest implementing surveys at subdistrict level increase the accuracy of treatment classifications across most scenarios. While sampling intensively at the subdistrict level resulted in the highest classification accuracy, this sampling strategy resulted in the highest costs. Alternatively, sampling the same numbers of schools currently recommended at the district level but stratifying by subdistrict increased cost effectiveness.

The impact of MDA on Schistosoma haematobium infection: what is required to achieve morbidity control . . ?

Klodeta Kura et al.
Parasites & Vectors
We show that the key determinants of achieving the WHO goals are the precise form of the age-intensity of infection profile and the baseline SAC prevalence. Additionally, we find that the higher the burden of infection in adults, the higher the chances that adults need to be included in the treatment programme to achieve EPHP.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Integration of health education intervention to improve the compliance to mass drug administration for soil-transmitted helminth

Tilak Chandra Nath et al.
Parasite Epidemiology and Control
Increased knowledge score and behaviour changes due to HE intervention demonstrated in this study hint that integration of HE with MDA is feasible and can be promising to promote MDA compliance and to reduce STH prevalence in this setting. However, the allocation of adequate budget, as well as coordination and collaboration with local political context, should be addressed for the sustainability of integration.

Gender differences in the perceived need for community-wide deworming: Formative qualitative research from the DeWorm3 study

Kumudha Aruldas et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Findings from this study suggest that communication and dissemination messages should include a rationale for cMDA and stress the safety and benefits of the drug. In addition, these results highlight the importance of carefully timing the delivery of cMDA to ensure that working adults and migratory populations have access.

Prevalence and Risk Factors of Infection with Soil Transmitted Helminths in Children from Bandjoun, the West Region of Cameroon

Vanessa Rosine Nkouayep et al.
International Journal of Tropical Disease & Health
Three STHs were identified with an overall prevalence of 8.7%. These nematodes were Ascaris lumbricoides (8.3%), Trichuris trichiura (0.3%) and hookworms (Ancylostoma duodenale, Necator americanus) (0.7%). Failure to wash hands before meals (AOR: 2.152 [1.056-4.389]) was the main predictor associated with Ascaris infections. Not eating food picked up from the ground (AOR: 0.494 [0.261-0.937]) and not raising pigs at home (AOR: 0.109 [0.045-0.268]) reduced risk of infection.


Evaluation of DjinniChip, a simple, fast, and low-cost diagnostic assay for the detection of ocular Chlamydia trachomatis

Dr. Tamsyn Derrick and Professor Martin Holland
BMC Blog Network: BugBitten
To support national programmes to generate evidence, researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute (Germany) and Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (Tanzania) evaluated a simple, fast, and low-cost diagnostic assay (DjinniChip) for the detection of ocular C. trachomatis.


The awareness of neglected tropical diseases in a sample of medical and nursing students in Cairo University, Egypt. . .

Eman Elfar, Noha Asem, and Hanaa Yousof
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
The present study aimed to provide information about the awareness of medical and nursing students regarding NTDs and their control activities. We targeted medical and nursing students who have finished an epidemiology course. Our results showed that only one fourth of the students knew the meaning of NTDs and nearly half of them agreed that the awareness of NTDs is poor among Egyptians.

Finding nomadic communities: our research in action

In Massangam in the West region of Cameroon, nomadic communities regularly move around, living in different areas at different times of the year. This means they can miss out on mass drug administration (MDA) programmes to treat and prevent river blindness – a disease which if left untreated can cause irreversible blindness. It’s essential these communities receive the medicine because their camps are usually set up near riverbanks, which puts them at higher risk of being bitten by the disease-carrying flies that breed near fast-flowing water. But without knowing where nomadic communities are and how to reach them, dispensing treatment is a huge challenge. That’s why we’re working to identify, track and record where these nomadic communities are and take treatment directly to them.


Many Die From Snakebites Despite the Availability of Antivenom

Rob Goodier
Reuters Health Information
Snakebites may have claimed nearly 65,000 lives globally last year and are accountable for 3 million years of life lost, placing them at the top of the list of neglected tropical diseases, a new modeling study suggests. "We show that antivenom existence alone is not sufficient to prevent death and disability from venomous snakebites. There needs to be investments in the health system and distribution of antivenom to rural and poor areas where venomous snakebites are the biggest problem and victims do not access a hospital or clinic in time to prevent complications," lead author Nicholas Roberts, a medical student at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, told Reuters Health by email. (Users must sign up to access this free article.)


Coronavirus Thwarts Fight Against Chagas’ Disease

Marissa Revilla
Global Press Journal
Chagas is one of 19 neglected tropical diseases that collectively affect more than 1.5 billion people and cost economies worldwide billions of dollars annually. The illnesses, which include river blindness, leprosy, intestinal worms and trachoma, deepen poverty by keeping millions out of work and school. They kill hundreds of thousands each year. Though countries have eradicated some of these tropical diseases, the coronavirus pandemic has only made more stark the lack of attention given to such diseases. Research related to Chagas was already lagging. The pandemic has pushed that work further behind.


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

Hand Hygiene for All
December 10, 2020
The International Society for Neglected Tropical Diseases

The leadership needed to stimulate the battle against NTDs
December 16, 2020, Webinar
Webinar of the World Health Organization