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Renewed Commitments to Drug Donations for Schistosomiasis and STH & 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.  

Deworming - J&J

Since 2006, Johnson & Johnson has delivered more than 1.4 billion doses of its parasite-fighting medication to approximately 800 million children worldwide. The company will begin distributing the new pediatric formulation as part of its donations this year.



Lymphatic filariasis

Improved assessment of mass drug administration and health district management performance to eliminate lymphatic filariasis

Carmen Maroto-Camino et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Together with National Programmes in Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) we adapted Lot Quality Assurance Sampling (LQAS) methods to verify campaign coverage because it is relatively inexpensive in comparison to other survey approaches, provides information and facilitates actions at the Implementation Unit (IU) level, which is usually the district. LQAS signals IU whose performance is likely to need improvement because MDA coverage is below the coverage target. Our results show consistently that administrative records over-estimated campaign coverage and did not detect implementation and coverage problems due to errors in numerators and denominators, incorrect reporting, and/or incorrect aggregation of tally sheets.

Elimination of lymphatic filariasis as a public health problem from Tonga

Reynold Ofanoa, Tukia Ofa, E. A. Padmasiri and D. Ramaiah Kapa
Tropical Medicine and Health
Tonga had successfully met the criteria for elimination of [lymphatic filariasis, or] LF as a public health problem. The accomplishment was acknowledged by the WHO in 2017. Tonga looks forward to work with stakeholders to eliminate transmission of LF and achieve zero incidence of infection.

Depressive Symptoms Amongst People with Podoconiosis and Lower Limb Lymphoedema of Other Cause in Cameroon. . .

Maya Semrau et al.
Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease
Lower limb lymphoedema refers to swelling of the lower leg and feet, and may be caused by several neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), including podoconiosis, lymphatic filariasis (LF), and leprosy. . . Despite the limitations, this study contributes to a growing body of evidence which shows that mental distress and disorder is common amongst people with lower limb lymphoedema such as podoconiosis, thereby greatly increasing the burden associated with the conditions.


48m Nigerians at risk of river blindness – Expert

Usman A. Bello
Daily Trust (Nigeria)
An Ophthalmologist, Dr. Valentina Ideh, has raised the alarm that about 40 million Nigerians are at risk of contracting river blindness (Onchocerca volvulus) in the country. Dr Ideh, who lectures at the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria, stated this in Benin during the 20th Faculty Lecture with the theme: Vision 2020 in Nigeria: Myth or Reality.

Reaching the last mile: main challenges relating to and recommendations to accelerate onchocerciasis elimination in Africa

Gebremedhin Gebrezgabiher, Zeleke Mekonnen, Delenasaw Yewhalaw and Asrat Hailu
Infectious Diseases of Poverty
National programs need to regularly monitor and evaluate the performance and progress of their interventions, while envisaging the complete elimination of onchocerciasis from their territory. Factors hindering the targeted goal of interruption of parasite transmission need to be identified and remedial actions should be taken. If possible and appropriate, [alternative treatment strategies, or] ATSs need to be implemented to accelerate disease elimination by 2025.


WHO and Merck KGaA renew commitment to Praziquantel Donation Program

Global Schistosomiasis Alliance
WHO and Merck KGaA have renewed their longstanding collaboration to beat schistosomiasis. Signing their third memorandum of understanding (MoU) their collaboration centers on the continueing success of the Merck Praziquantel donation program which is now transitioning to the Merck Schistosomiasis Elimination Program. In 2017 over 85 million children beenfitted from praziquantel treatment, meaning 71% of school-aged children in need were treated for schistosomiasis. This brings the global NTD community within reach of the WHO 2020 Roadmap goal of reaching 75% of school-aged children in need by 2020.

A Search for Snail-Related Answers to Explain Differences in Response of Schistosoma mansoni to Praziquantel Treatment. . .

Martin W. Mutuku et al.
The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Here, we focus on the relationship of Biomphalaria snails to [praziquantel, or] PZQ-based control efforts for S. mansoni in and around the Kenyan shoreline of Lake Victoria, one of the world’s major hyperendemic foci of human schistosomiasis. . . Results of this study did not find significant differences between [persistent hotspots, or] PHS and [responding, or] RESP villages for B. sudanica with respect to relative abundance or numbers of snails shedding S. mansoni cercariae or in the number of worms recovered from sentinel mice.

Prevalence of Schistosoma Haematobium Measured by a Mobile Health System in an Unexplored Endemic Region. . .

Didier Lalaye, Mirjam E de Bruijn and Tom PVM de Jong
JMIR Public Health or Suveillance
The prevalence of schistosomiasis in children in the subprefecture of Torrock is moderately high. Efforts will be required to enhance the awareness of parents and to reach a larger percentage of the population. Systematic governmental measures should be put in place as soon as possible to increase awareness in the area and to diagnose and treat cases of schistosomiasis.

High-dose or Multi-day Praziquantel for Imported Schistosomiasis? A Systematic Review

Giulia Cucchetto et al.
Journal of Travel Medicine
This is the first complete catalogue of the published experience with [praziquantel, or] PZQ outside of endemic areas in the situation where reinfection is not an issue. We found a wide heterogeneity of the therapeutic regimens reported. Multicenter clinical trials conducted in non-endemic areas and guidelines specifically addressing the treatment of imported cases of chronic schistosomiasis are needed.

Schistosomiasis Action Framework Portal Now live

Global Schistosomiasis Alliance
The Action Framework is an internal tool for the schisto community to identify gaps and priorities. It accompanies the Impact Dashboard, an external tool available on the UTCNTD website. . . The Action Framework is linked to the Schistosomiasis Action Framework.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Johnson & Johnson Extends Long-Standing Donation Program to Support Global Effort to Tackle Intestinal Worms

Ronan Collins and Seema Kumar
Johnson & Johnson
“This is the latest example of Johnson & Johnson’s deep and enduring commitment to achieve a world free of NTDs,” said Paul Stoffels, M.D., Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee and Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson. “Intestinal worms are a particularly damaging condition for children¾they can lead to malnutrition, which can impair cognitive development and limit children’s ability to learn, grow, and prosper. We’re proud to continue this program so that children in the world’s poorest countries can achieve their full potential and thrive.”

Reassessment of the prevalence of soil-transmitted helminth infections in Sri Lanka to enable a more focused control programme

Dileepa Senajith Deiriweera et al.
The Lancet Global Health
We did a cross-sectional, school-based, national survey using multistage stratified cluster sampling, covering all nine provinces as well as populations at high risk of soil-transmitted helminth infections living in urban slums and in plantation-sector communities. Our study population was children aged 5–7 years attending state schools. . . Our survey findings indicate that the national prevalence of soil-transmitted helminth infection has continued to decline in Sri Lanka. On the basis of WHO guidelines, we recommend discontinuation of routine deworming in low-risk areas, continuation of annual deworming in high-risk areas, and deworming once every 2 years in intermediate-risk areas, for at least 4 years.

Sampling strategies for monitoring and evaluation of morbidity targets for soil-transmitted helminths

Federica Giardina et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
The current World Health Organization (WHO) target for the three major soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections is to reduce prevalence of moderate-to-heavy infections to below 1% by 2020. In terms of monitoring and evaluation (M&E), the current WHO guidelines for control of STHs recommend evaluation of infection levels in school-age children (SAC) after five to six years of preventive chemotherapy (PC), using the standard Kato-Katz faecal smear. Here, we assess the predictive performance of various sampling designs for the evaluation of the morbidity target.


WHO Alliance for the Global Elimination of Trachoma by 2020: progress report on elimination of trachoma, 2018

World Health Organization
Weekly Epidemiological Record
To date, 8 countries (Cambodia, Ghana, Islamic Republic of Iran, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal and Oman) have been officially validated as having eliminated trachoma as a public health problem; the Islamic Republic of Iran was added to the list since the previous update was published in The Weekly Epidemiological Record. A further 5 countries (China, Gambia, Iraq, Myanmar and Togo) have reported achievement of the prevalence targets for elimination.

WHO reports 91% reduction in trachoma prevalence in Weekly Epidemiolocal Record

International Coalition for Trachoma Control
"The association between the effectiveness of the SAFE strategy, it’s scale up and subsequent reduction in global trachoma prevalence is clear and a 91% reduction since 2002 is something to be very optimistic about", said Scott McPherson, Chair of the International Coalition for Trachoma Control. "There is a great opportunity to eliminate this painful and disabling disease in the coming years and to ensure investments through the global trachoma program strengthen health systems. As an increasing number of districts reach elimination thresholds, we must also look to ensure no one is left behind and continue to identify remaining gaps in the global program and target interventions to include hard to reach populations. Eliminating trachoma will significantly improve the lives of the world’s most marginalised people and is a necessary step to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals."

Knowledge, perceptions and experiences of trachoma among Maasai in Tanzania: Implications for prevention and control

Tara B. Mtuy et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Understanding indigenous knowledge may help guide control programs, tailor them to local contexts, address local beliefs and dispel misunderstandings. There is an essential need to understand the social, cultural and political context of the target community to deliver effective programs. Despite limited knowledge, the community recognized trachoma as a public health problem. Results have implications for disease control programs in other marginalized communities.

Cases of trachoma trichiasis -- a cause of blindness -- on rise in India

Priyanka Sharma
New Kerala (India)
Union Health Ministry has received fresh cases of trachomatous trichiasis (TT) with prevalence rate at 3.5 per 1,000 population while the World Health Organisation (WHO) restricts the disease's prevalence to less than two per 1,000 population.


Phase II of the WHO's global consultations for 2030 NTD Roadmap

Global Schistosomiasis Alliance
The first-round of the World Health Organization (WHO) online consultation gathered feedback for the global Roadmap for neglected tropical diseases from the 9th of April to 17th of April 2019, on the proposed goals and milestones for each NTD, to be reached by 2023 (the end of GPW13), by 2025 and by the end of 2030. The WHO used this feedback to refine the disease targets and enrich the understanding of critical actions required, both disease-specific and cross-cutting. . . WHO's second round of public consultation shares an advance draft of the 2030 Roadmap and invites feedback on these refined 2030 NTD overarching/cross-cutting goals, disease-specific targets and assessments.

How to effectively deliver drugs on a mass scale

Christina Faust
Over 1 billion treatments for neglected tropical diseases have been given through mass drug administration campaigns. The success of mass drug administration (MDA) is dependent on high coverage, and high numbers such as these provide hope. But who actually administers drugs directly to people in endemic regions?

Defeating Neglected Tropical Diseases: Progress, Challenges and Opportunities

World Health Organization
Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) affect more than 1.5 billion of the poorest, most marginalized communities worldwide. Infected adults are often unable to work to support their families. Children miss school. Entire communities become mired in poverty as disabled and unemployed people struggle to afford food and basic services, including healthcare. During the past decade, the World Health Organization (WHO), working with its Member States and partners, has steered progress.


Performance of serological tests available in Brazil for the diagnosis of human visceral leishmaniasis

Mariana Lourenço Freire et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
The aim of this study was to directly compare the performance of six commercial kits: three enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs), two immunofluorescence antibody tests (IFATs), one immunochromatographic test (ICT), besides one ICT, currently not commercially available in Brazil and one in-house direct agglutination test (DAT-LPC), not yet marketed. . .the differences in the performance of the tests available for VL in Brazil confirm the need for local studies before defining the diagnostic strategy.

Building an innovative Chagas disease program for primary care units, in an urban non- endemic city

Ana Cristina Pereiro and Silvia Gold
BMC Public Health
This project showed the feasibility of the primary healthcare level for early diagnosis and timely treatment of [Chagas disease, or] ChD. Tailor made programs and public-private associations should be considered for vulnerable populations in emerging economies in order to enhance efforts and obtain better results. This program may be replicated in other countries of Latin America were Chagas is a main public health issue and, with the corresponding adaptations, for other neglected diseases as well.

Beyond the building blocks: integrating community roles into health systems frameworks to achieve health for all

Emma Sacks et al.
BMJ Global Health
This paper suggests an expansion of the [World Health Organization, or] WHO building blocks, starting with the recognition of the essential determinants of the production of health. It presents an expanded framework that articulates the need for dedicated human resources and quality services at the community level; it places strategies for organising and mobilising social resources in communities in the context of systems for health; it situates health information as one ingredient of a larger block dedicated to information, learning and accountability; and it recognises societal partnerships as critical links to the public health sector. This framework makes explicit the oft-neglected investment needs for community health and aims to inform efforts to situate community health within national health systems and global guidance to achieve health for all.

Did You See a Really Great Story about Tropical Medicine/Global Health in the Last Year?

American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene
Nominate it for the 2019 ASTMH Communications Award! The ASTMH Communications Award, established under the vision of Past President Claire Panosian, MD, DTMH (London), FASTMH, recognizes excellence in tropical medicine storytelling through the written word. Past winners include The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Time, Newsweek and Los Angeles Times.

Upcoming Events

Meeting of the Brazilian Societies of Tropical Medicine, Parasitology, Chagas and Leishmaniasis
July 27-30, Minas Gerais, Brazil
The theme of the conference is "Convergence and inclusion: in search of sustainable solutions for the diagnosis, treatment and control of tropical diseases."

World Water Week
August 25-30
World Water Week is the annual focal point for the globe’s water issues. It is organized by SIWI. In 2019, World Water Week will address the theme “Water for society – Including all”. In 2018, over 3,300 individuals and around 380 convening organizations from 135 countries participated in the Week.

Female Genital Schistosomiasis: Opportunities for Research
September 15, Liverpool, UK 
On Sunday, September 15, 2019, experts in neglected tropical diseases, HIV, gynecology, and related fields will convene for a meeting on female genital schistosomiasis (FGS). The aim of this meeting is to identify priority research questions regarding the measurement, treatment and control of FGS in order to guide the agenda of future operational research on this important, neglected gynecological disease. In addition, this one-day meeting will look at opportunities to engage with at-risk local communities, in-country gynecological services and HIV programs. 

11th European Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health
September 16-20, Liverpool, UK 
RSTMH is hosting the 11th ECTMIH in 2019, on behalf of the Federation of European Societies for Tropical Medicine and International Health (FESTMIH), at the ACC in Liverpool, UK. Every two years, ECTMIH 2019 brings together more than 1,500 scientists and experts from across the world. The Congress provides a platform for sharing research and innovation in the field of tropical medicine and global health.

ECTMIH session: Schistosomiasis Control Through The Ages
September 17, Liverpool, UK 
The GSA Research working group have secured an organised session at the upcoming European Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health conference in Liverpool this September. The GSA session, called Schistosomiasis Control Through the Ages, will present innovative research projects and findings on the impact and treament of schistosomiasis in specific age-groups and genders.

The 10th NTD NGO Network (NNN) Conference
September 17-19, Liverpool, UK 
The chosen theme for the 2019 conference is 'Our vision beyond 2020: many partners, one voice'

6th International Symposium on One Health Research
September 18-19, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
An opportunity for foreign scientists to interact closely with high-ranking Mongolian leaders who specialize in human and animal research leading to numerous research collaborations and discoveries.

Achieving UHC: A Sustainable Future for Africa
September 23, New York, NY
This UHC Conference will feature Heads of State, African Union leaders, Ministers and youth leaders from across Africa who will discuss how to best leverage high-level political leadership to achieve UHC for Africa. UHC strategies place the most vulnerable at the center of the health system, ensuring that they have access to the fundamental conditions of human health together with access to quality care in their communities. This conference will spotlight successful efforts, identify synergies within and outside the health community, and promote effective solutions to achieve a sustainable and healthy future for all. Do not miss this unique opportunity.

East African Research in Progress 2019
September 26-28, Moshi, Tanzania
This is the third year we are running the East African Research in Progress meeting (EARIP) in association with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), the East African Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and Kilimanjaro Christian Medical University College. This meeting is designed specifically for early career investigators to present their unpublished research in progress to peers and senior experts in all fields of tropical medicine and global health.

IAPB Council of Members 2019
October 5-6, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
With local office support from Sightsavers, IAPB is hosting the Council in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The Council will be from 7-8 October 2019, preceded by the IAPB Work Groups, Committees, and Board meetings on 5-6 October. The IAPB Council brings together world leaders in eye health and vision care to discuss issues relevant to the elimination of avoidable blindness and visual impairment globally. The meetings are also an opportunity to meet and discuss the latest in eye health with your peers.

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.

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.  

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. 

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.