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Purple Cows Deployed against Sleeping Sickness & 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.  

Tsetse fly

Rising temperatures will see the deadly tsetse fly, also known as the "fly of death" expand its range in northern Zimbabwe, but scientists have developed a way of stopping them: stationary purple "cows".


Lymphatic filariasis

VIDEO: Lymphatic Filariasis should be covered under Universal Health Coverage: Dr T K Suma

Sharid Akhter
ET Healthworld
Shahid Akhter, editor, ETHealthworld, spoke to Dr T K Suma, Prof, Dept of General Medicine, T D Medical College, Kerala to know more about the prevalence of Lymphatic Filariasis and efforts being made to combat and eliminate this neglected disease. . . "In Tamil Nadu, they have started giving pension for these patients. I’m not sure about how they are assessing it, but it’s also not using any tool of the assessment/ It should be a policy decision. The government should decide that if such problems are there, then they can be economically assisted. This is a disease, as I said, usually affect the low socio-economic people and they are suffering a lot. Therefore, any financial assistance is good for them. Lymphatic Filariasis should be included under Universal Health Coverage and all the requirements like antibiotics, their medicines and all this could be included under the Universal Health Coverage also."


FG halts River blindness in 3 states

Ojoma Akor
Daily Trust (Nigeria)
The transmission of Onchocerciasis also known as River Blindness has been halted in Plateau, Nasarawa and Kaduna states. National Coordinator, Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) of the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr Chukwuma Anyaike made the disclosure yesterday during the National Onchocerciasis Elimination Committee (NOEC) meeting in Abuja.

Is ivermectin safe during pregnancy?

Medical Xpress
Is it safe to give ivermectin to pregnant women? In order to answer this question, researchers from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), an institution supported by "la Caixa," conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies that reported cases of accidental exposure to the drug among pregnant women. The conclusion of the analysis, published in The Lancet Global Health, is that there is not sufficient evidence to support the safety of ivermectin administration during pregnancy.


LASG tackles Schistosomiasis at the grassroots

Omolara Akintoye
The Nation (Nigeria)
In its bid to tackle snail fever otherwise known as schistosomiasis in some parts of the state, medical intervention has commenced in local government areas such as Ikeja, ifako-Ijaiye, Amuwo Odofin, Oshodi-Isolo, Agege and Alimosho local government areas, by the state government in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and World Health Organisation (WHO) . . According to Salam, Lagos State government [or LASG] is doing all it can to contain the spread all over the state. The intervention is not limited to primary health centres alone as community health officers also went round schools, religious organisations, event centres, to administer drugs on children between the ages of 5-14 years.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Domains of transmission and association of community, school, and household sanitation with soil-transmitted helminth infections

William Oswald et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
We found reported use of a sanitation facility by households was associated with reduced prevalence of hookworm infection but not with reduced prevalence of T. trichiura infection. School sanitation coverage > 3 toilets per 100 pupils was associated with lower prevalence of hookworm infection. School sanitation was not associated with T. trichiura infection. Village sanitation coverage > 81% was associated with reduced prevalence of T. trichiura infection, but no protective association was detected for hookworm infection. General contextual effects represented by residual heterogeneity between village and school domains had comparable impact upon likelihood of hookworm and T. trichiura infection as sanitation coverage in either of these domains.


Coverage assessment survey following trachoma mass drug administration (MDA) in six districts of Oromia, Western Ethiopia, 2017

Tariku Tesfaye Bekuma et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
In this survey, four of the six districts met the target threshold (i.e. 80%) for effective coverage; Ambo rural and Jimma Geneti did not meet the target threshold.Therefore, programmatic improvements should be made for the future campaign to reach the expected thresholds while the campaign in four of the six districts should be encouraged.

Uganda sets new target as efforts to end trachoma by 2020 fail

The Independent (Uganda)
The Vector Disease Control Division in the Health Ministry has extended the deadline for the elimination of Trachoma from the country from 2020 to 2022. This follows the failure by the Health Ministry to eliminate Trachoma from Uganda in line with the 2007 resolution, which set the 2020 deadline. . . Dr. Gilbert Baayenda, the Programs Officer for Trachoma Control/ Elimination Program in the Health Ministry told URN on Tuesday that they are making final touches to eradicate trachoma from Uganda. He says that only three out of the initial 50 districts still have the prevalence of five percent of the entire population suffering from the disease.


2020: a crucial year for neglected tropical diseases

The Lancet
The inaugural World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day will be marked on Jan 30, 2020. “#BeatNTDs: For good. For all” is the slogan aiming to gather support and build momentum for a decisive year of action against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Jan 30 is the anniversary of the 2012 London Declaration on NTDs, which did much to bring together policy makers across countries and to encourage investment to commit to control and elimination of NTDs. . . 2020 is particularly notable because WHO is expected to launch new goals during the year to guide progress against NTDs until 2030. Reducing the burden of disease and disability caused by NTDs is essential to improving the health of the world's poorest people.

Women and men face gender-related challenges in treatment for neglected tropical diseases

Alexandra Wharton-Smith
Around the world, women and girls suffer a greater burden of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) compared to men. Now, through a series of focus groups and interviews, researchers reporting in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases have probed exactly why women in Ethiopia might not seek care, or might delay care seeking for NTDs. They also looked into gender-related challenges men might face when accessing care for NTDs . . . "The results demonstrate that gender is significant in health seeking for NTDs," the researchers say. "These findings can be useful for informing programme design towards ensuring the promotion of equitable implementation."

Neglected Tropical Diseases: The Gender Gap

Maria Rebollo
Of the 1.5 billion people who are affected by Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) worldwide, women and girls are disproportionately suffering. Women need to be more visible if we are to eliminate NTDs by 2020 and a gendered perspective is crucial to understanding how this can be achieved. . . According to a 2016 report by Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases, women and girls perform two thirds of water collection, exposing them to water-borne diseases such as schistosomiasis. Likewise, women are also typically the primary caregivers and are therefore far more likely to come into contact with NTDs such as trachoma infection. Indeed, research has suggested that women account for up to 80% of disability-adjusted Life Years that are linked to blindness caused by trachoma.

£5 million project to tackle tropical diseases of skin

Mirage News (Australia)
Skin disease is a leading cause of global chronic disease burden and morbidity. Buruli ulcer, cutaneous leishmaniasis, leprosy and yaws are very severe NTDs affecting the skin. They disfigure and can cause major physical disability, psychological distress, financial hardship and social isolation. A major barrier to addressing these diseases is delayed diagnosis, which is exacerbated by both a lack of resources and by stigma. . . Over the next four years SHARP, led by Dr Steve Walker from LSHTM, aims to address these critical questions through a series of interlinked studies in Ghana and Ethiopia, countries with a particularly high burden of these diseases.

Eisai breaks ground for global drug discovery centre

BioSpectrum (Asia Edition)
The Tsukuba Research Laboratories is a core research center for drug discovery research in the neurology and oncology fields, which are our priority areas, and conducts the drug discovery activities with the aim of contributing to global health including neglected tropical diseases. In addition, the Tsukuba Research Laboratories will also play a central role as a base for Data Driven Drug Discovery & Development (5D drug discovery) to create a paradigm shift in drug discovery by digital technology.

Neglected Tropical Diseases as a ‘litmus test’ for Universal Health Coverage? Understanding who is left behind and why. . .

Laura Dean et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
To our knowledge this is the only paper which has combined a comprehensive equity framework with intersectional feminist theory, to establish a fuller understanding of who is left behind and why in [mass drug administration, or] MDA across countries and contexts. Ensuring the most vulnerable have continued access to future treatment options will contribute to the progressive realisation of [universal health coverage, or] UHC, allowing the NTD community to continue to support their vision of being a true ‘litmus test’.

Starting From The First Mile

Carl Manlan
While they may appear invisible to most, malaria, Neglected Tropical Diseases and other preventable and curable diseases continue to challenge first mile communities’ contribution to our economic transformation. UHC is an opportunity to rethink the way in which African societies have been reshaped to fit funding streams instead of preventing and curing all diseases. Impact will come from our ability to pool our resources to strengthen government-built health systems instead of making direct family interventions.

Announcing the new Board of Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases

Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases
Following an international search, Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases is excited to announce the inaugural Board that will lead the partnership from 2020 and beyond. . . The new Board members are: Ellen Agler, CEO, The END Fund, Maïmouna Diop Ly, Chief Health and Social Protections Officer, African Development Bank, Silvia Gold, President, Mundo Sano Foundation, Mona Hammami, Senior Director, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court, Ilona Kickbusch, Professor, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Carl Manlan, Chief Operating Officer, Ecobank Foundation, Francisca Mutapi, Professor, University of Edinburgh, Katey Owen, Director of NTDs, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Peter Stevenson, previously Vice President, Pfizer, Rieko Suzuki Kitaoka, Chair, SDG Promise Japan. Wang Yu, Professor, Tsinghua University.


Zimbabwe uses purple cows to combat 'fly of death'

Ryan Truscott
The researchers found that violet polyester attracted 50 percent more female tsetse flies than black cotton or blue polyester used on traditional targets. Santer and his team called it a scientific breakthrough that could improve the lives of people across Africa. The field tests were done at Rekomitjie Research Station in the Zambezi Valley. RFI met veteran Zimbabwean tsetse researcher and one of the co-authors of the study, Glyn Vale in his book-lined study in Harare. “Admittedly, it [violet fabric] is only 50 percent better. But what that means is that you can reduce by a third the number of targets you’ve got to deploy," he said. "Economically, it’s an important step forward.”

Hit-to-lead in neglected diseases – it’s a numbers game

Nikki Withers
Drug Target Review
The DNDi (Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative) – a non-profit drug research and development organisation – has been working for the last 15 years to develop new medicines for vulnerable and poor communities. For leishmaniasis, the aim of the DNDi is to make treatments for all forms of the disease safer, shorter, more affordable and effective. In the short term, it hopes to develop better treatment regimens using existing drugs, while their long-term goal is to develop an entirely new generation of all-oral drugs.

Guinea Worm Wrap-Up #264

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The Carter Center
Chad’s Guinea Worm Eradication Program has reported a total of 1,855 dog and 46 cat infections, and 43 human cases in January-October 2019. The Ethiopia Dracunculiasis Eradication Program has not reported a human case of Guinea worm disease since December 2017. Mali’s National Committee for Certification of Dracunculiasis Eradication met in September 2019, to debrief on their supervisory visits to Kayes Region and Bamako in July and prepare for a supervisory visit to Koulikoro Region. The South Sudan Guinea Worm Eradication Program has reported four confirmed cases of Guinea worm disease in humans (two contained) between January-October 2019, which is a 60 percent reduction from the 10 cases reported during the same period in 2018. On November 19, 2019, the Minister of Health of Angola, the Honorable Silvia Lutucuta, hosted a ceremony in Luanda with Carter Center CEO Ambassador Mary Ann Peters to sign a Memorandum of Understanding between the Angolan Ministry of Health and The Carter Center.

India’s snakebite regime found wanting

Biplab Das
Antivenoms commercially available in India are inefficient in treating the effects of many snakebites, researchers say. Writing in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, a team led by Kartik Sunagar from the Indian Institute of Science reports that while antivenoms remain the mainstay of snakebite therapy, studies in mice show they fail to neutralise the toxins of many venomous snakes.

World malaria report 2019

World Health Organization
The World malaria report 2019 provides a comprehensive update on global and regional malaria data and trends. The report tracks investments in malaria programmes and research as well as progress across all intervention areas: prevention, diagnosis, treatment, elimination and surveillance. It also includes dedicated chapters on the consequences of malaria on maternal, infant and child health, the “High Burden to High Impact” approach as well as biological threats to the fight against malaria.

ASTMH Announces Newly Elected Society Leadership

American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene announced Joel G. Breman, MD, DTPH, FASTMH, as its new president today at the Society’s 68th Annual Meeting in National Harbor. Dr. Breman is retired from the Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health. He succeeds Chandy C. John, MD, FASTMH, who is the Ryan White Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Ryan White Center for Pediatric Infectious Disease and Global Health at Indiana University. Julie Jacobson, MD, DTMH, of Bridges to Development, is President-Elect.

What's Next? Today's Breakthroughs, Tomorrow's Potential

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
More children and young people will survive and thrive thanks to billions of dollars raised to combat infectious diseases that hit the poorest hardest; more women and girls can transform their lives as barriers to economic participation are removed; new crops that can withstand heat, floods and drought will help smallholder farmers adapt to climate change; and students and parents in America can start to make better judgments on the value of going to college.


Co-Creation Hub
New at the third edition of the Next Einstein Forum Global Gathering will be the NEF Investor Meetup held concurrently with the regular program. The Investor Meetup idea came from discussions with the NEF Community of Scientists around how to make the transition from lab to market. This transition often is not clear cut for scientists. Tech transfer is weak if not nonexistent at most universities. As well, there is a clear disconnect between the thriving startup ecosystem in Africa and academic institutions and research labs. Deadline: December 20 at 5:30 PM

Upcoming Events 

World Leprosy Day
January 26, 2020
The last Sunday in January was chosen by French humanitarian Raoul Follereau in 1953, as the third Sunday from Epiphany from the Catholic calendar. The Catholic Church then reads the story of the Gospel where Jesus meets and heals a person with leprosy.

World NTD Day
January 30, 2020
Join us to kick off a decisive year in the fight against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Together, we’ll celebrate hard-earned progress in the face of enormous challenges and take action to #BeatNTDs: For good. For all.

73rd World Health Assembly Executive Board
February 3-8, 2020, Geneva, Switzerland
The Executive Board is composed of 34 technically qualified members elected for three-year terms. The annual Board meeting is held in January when the members agree upon the agenda for the World Health Assembly and the resolutions to be considered by the Health Assembly.

World Health Summit Regional Meeting
April 27-28, 2020, Kampala, Uganda
The central topics of the Regional Meeting 2020 are in line with the African journey towards meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals and achieving universal health coverage. We invite academic institutions, companies, foundations, and other organizations to get involved. If you wish to contribute and become a partner of the Regional Meeting, please get in touch to discuss the opportunites.

73rd World Health Assembly
May 17-20, 2020, Geneva, Switzerland
The World Health Assembly is the decision-making body of WHO. It is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States and focuses on a specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board. The main functions of the World Health Assembly are to determine the policies of the Organization, appoint the Director-General, supervise financial policies, and review and approve the proposed programme budget. The Health Assembly is held annually in Geneva, Switzerland.

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.

NTD NGO Network Annual Meeting
September 8-10, 2020, Kathmandu, Neoal
2020 will be an important year: celebrating the success and embracing the new NTD Roadmap from the World Health Organization. Please get your stories ready and join the celebration!

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.