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Select Campaigns Resume with Safety Measures for COVID-19 & 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.


Opening ceremony of the MCH Week in a village in Rubavu District

Opening ceremony of the Mother and Child Health Week in a village in Rubavu District


Lymphatic filariasis

Finding hotspots: development of an adaptive spatial sampling approach

Ricardo Andrade-Pacheco
Scientific Reports
Missing hotspots could cause setbacks for elimination efforts. Hence, various approaches to identify them have been proposed. Variations of contact tracing, whereby testing is targeted at families and neighbours of individu-als found positive during surveys or routine surveillance, have been explored for a number of diseases including schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis and malaria. Such approaches can, however, be expensive and can still fail to identify hotspots if positive individuals from those communities are not identified by the initial surveys. . . Building on the adaptive spatial sampling approach, we incorporate ideas from Bayesian optimization theory to propose an adaptive spatial sampling approach optimized to identify hotspot communities.


In Silico Design and Validation of OvMANE1, a Chimeric Antigen for Human Onchocerciasis Diagnosis

Cabirou Mounchili Shintouo et al.
he public health goal of onchocerciasis in Africa has advanced from control to elimination. In this light, accurate diagnosis is necessary to determine treatment endpoints and confirm elimination, as well as to conduct surveillance for the identification of any possible recrudescence of the disease. Currently, the monitoring of onchocerciasis elimination relies on the Ov-16 test. However, this test is unable to discriminate between past and active infections. Furthermore, about 15–25% of infected persons are reported to be negative for the Ov-16 test, giving a misleading sense of security to false-negative individuals who might continue to serve as reservoirs for infections. Therefore, we opted to design and validate a more sensitive and specific chimeric antigen (OvMANE1) for onchocerciasis diagnosis, using previously reported immunodominant peptides of O. volvulus, the parasite responsible for the disease. In silico analysis of OvMANE1 predicted it to be more antigenic than its individual peptides.


Associations between schistosomiasis and HIV‐1 acquisition risk in four prospective cohorts: a nested case‐control analysis

Aaron F Bochner et al.
Journal of the International AIDS Society
Globally, schistosomes infect approximately 200 million people, with 90% of infections in sub‐Saharan Africa. Schistosomiasis is hypothesized to increase HIV‐1 acquisition risk, and multiple cross‐sectional studies reported strong associations. We evaluated this hypothesis within four large prospective cohorts. . . Schistosomiasis was not a strong risk factor for HIV‐1 acquisition in these four prospective studies.

This Scientist Is Searching For A Vaccine To World’s Second-Most Devastating Parasite

Andrew Wright
Amanda Elyssa Ruiz, a PhD student at Brown University in the United States, is looking for potential vaccines to protect against schistosomiasis, a disease that impacts over 250 million people every year, making it the second most socio-economically devastating parasitic disease after malaria. . . "My main project is to identify novel vaccine candidates for schistosomiasis using epidemiologic data alongside immunologic and biochemical approaches," she says, "The Kurtis lab has developed a screening strategy for vaccine candidates which identifies the antigens on the parasite, Schistosoma japonicum."

Merck : Janssen to Develop Automated Diagnostic Tool for Neglected Tropical Diseases

Giulia Petroni
Market Screener
Merck KGaA said Thursday that it would partner with Janssen Pharmaceutica NV to develop an artificial intelligence-based diagnostic tool for the detection of neglected tropical diseases. The German pharmaceutical and chemicals company said the prototype that is being tested consists of an automated microscope with AI and data visualisation tool. It enables the counting of parasite eggs that develop into parasitic worms of either schistosomiasis or soil-transmitted helminthiasis.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

The Integrated Mother and Child Health Week during COVID-19 Pandemic in Rwanda

World Health Organization
The Mother and Child Health Week was implemented in villages with support of Community Health Workers and health providers from Health Centers. They were supported by the Local Government authorities in mobilization of communities. The Central level supported coordination and supervision of the campaign. Integrated Mother and Child Health Week is one of the strategies used to increase awareness regarding the use of preventive and curative services but also a great opportunity to provide key preventive services: deworming, vitamin A supplementation, screening of cases with malnutrition, HPV vaccination, family planning services and messages for prevention of malaria, early pregnancy, malnutrition, hygiene and for adherence to vaccination.


Sightsavers’ trachoma tracking app wins e-Health award

Sightsavers’ TT Tracker has won an award for its role in the fight against trachoma, a painful and potentially blinding eye disease that is endemic in many parts of Africa. The Android-based mobile application records key information about patients undergoing surgery for trachomatous trichiasis (TT), an advanced stage of the eye infection. The Global South eHealth Observatory is the leading information and networking platform for digital health projects in low- and middle-income countries. Each year it looks to fund and support the most promising initiatives using technology to improve access to quality healthcare and medicine for people in developing countries.


3 Key Takeaways From the 'Power the Partnership: End the Neglect' Event on NTDs

Global Citizen
Global coalition Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) hosted a high-level virtual event called "Power the Partnership: End the Neglect" on Thursday, in an effort to highlight the ongoing global efforts to put an end to NTDs. . . despite the very real public health threat these diseases cause, they are often overlooked. Here are three key takeaways from "Power the Partnership: End the Neglect" that remind us of the need to address NTDs around the world.

Zimbabwean entrepreneur launches global board to fight Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)

Bulawayo 24 News
Youth Combating NTDs founder and Zimbabwean entrepreneur Gerald Chirinda unveiled his global advisory board today as he urged world leaders not to forget NTDs in the fight against Covid-19. . . Gerald Chirinda is proud that so many young people are stepping up to be heard. He says: "As the largest demographic in the world, young people are also the largest at risk of being affected by NTDs. Young people represent a key constituent within the community, one that brings energy, innovative thinking and talent. Youth Combating NTDs is a global community of young people who are fighting to end NTDs. This youth-focused and led initiative is designed to mainstream the participation of young people within the NTD community across all its activities. We empower young leaders that are passionate about learning, with a view of being actively involved in the work of the NTD community in various capacities that range from advocacy to policy making."

Everyone will be affected by the U.S.'s withdrawal from the WHO

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
The Washington Post
The [World Health Organization, or] WHO has proudly played a leading role in several public health achievements over the past 72 years. Smallpox has been defeated, and polio faces imminent eradication. Many countries have eliminated measles and halted mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Innovative partnerships have led to vaccines against meningitis and Ebola. In today's interconnected world, responding to public health emergencies — from Zika in Brazil to Ebola in eastern Congo — remains a top priority. The United States has been with us at the forefront of these outbreaks. Without U.S. participation, this progress will undoubtedly be slowed and vital programs decimated. Consider the WHO's program on neglected tropical diseases, which the U.S. Agency for International Development funds at $6 million annually. Since 2002, tens of millions of people have been treated for trachoma — and spared blindness. Elephantiasis, which afflicts 120 million people in 72 countries, was eliminated in Yemen and Kiribati in 2019. And for nearly 900 million children infested with worms, deworming is the most important factor in enabling children to receive an education and for girls to graduate from secondary school.

Gender equality with good health and well being

Altaf Hussain Haji
Greater Kashmir
At last in general, the good health and wellbeing is under progress and processes of reduce Maternal Mortality ratio to 70, end preventable death of new born and reduce under five mortality rate to 11 per thousand live births,100 percent immunization coverage in children, increase health work force to 550 per lakh persons by 2030, end the epidemics of ADIS, tuberculosis malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, control of coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, water born disease and other communicable diseases are the key challenges for the targets of SDG3. Also challenges for improving sex ratio to 954, reduce wage gap to equal wages of females and males, control domestic violence, equal participation of women in leadership, more engagement of labour force participation of females and more family programme for better performance of the states and Union territories for achieving success to SDG5 by 2030. The efforts towards goals, the government has launched several national level schemes and programmes for successes achievement of SDG’s by 2030.

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: African Researchers’ Small Grants Program (SGP IV)

NTD Support Center
The African Research Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (ARNTD) with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and UK aid from the UK government, through the Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases (COR-NTD), is seeking proposals for both operational and implementation research on ‘’Emerging Challenges facing NTD program implementation in Africa.’’ This fourth edition of the Small Grants Program (SGP IV) is to support African researchers in both early and mid/late career to undertake operational or implementation research aligned with the goals established in the London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases.

NTD Toolbox Survey

RTI International
The NTD Toolbox is an initiative led by USAID's Act to End NTDs | East program that seeks to build capacity and understanding of NTD program implementation throughout the global NTD community. It is a collection of tools, resources, training materials, videos, and guidance to be used by NTD program managers and other implementing staff. We invite you to take a survey on the helpfulness and accessibility of the NTD Toolbox. This survey is being conducted as part of our efforts to ensure that the NTD Toolbox is useful to all NTD practitioners globally. We are interested in your familiarity with the toolbox and any improvements that can be made to improve access to NTD guidance, tools, and resources. The survey is open until 10 July 2020.


Goa Launches Activities to Distribute 27 Million Mosquito Nets

Ministry of Health - Republic of Uganda
Uganda launched a countrywide campaign on June 17 to distribute 27 million mosquito nets. Targeting all citizens, the drive—moved back from its scheduled April launch due to a coronavirus lockdown—will occur in phases, starting in districts with the highest malaria prevalence and those affected by floods.

Making Better Decisions in Global Health: Understand Positive Outliers to Inform Policy and Practice

Exemplars in Global Health
The Exemplars in Global Health (EGH) program has just launched publicly. The results and findings from 3+ years of research represents the collective contributions of a community of 100+ experts around the world (academic researchers as well as local & regional thought leaders), many of whom directly designed and implemented successful programs in Exemplar countries. All of the content is curated and available via EGH's web platform

Media release: Leading Public Health Organizations Petition the United States Government for Continued US Support of WHO

Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination
Leading United States-based public health organizations today petitioned the United States Government to reverse its decision and continue as a supporting member of the World Health Organization (WHO) to continue advances in global health that benefit all nations, including the United States. . . In April, the United States Government announced it would halt all funding to WHO and in May the United States announced it would terminate its relationship. The United States has since put into motion a formal withdrawal as a member from the institution, joining Lichtenstein as the only two countries who are not members of WHO.


The additional operational cost of conducting immunization campaigns during the COVID-19 pandemic

With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ThinkWell has estimated the added cost per dose of several potential precautionary measures: personal protective equipment (PPE) for vaccination teams, additional infection prevention and control (IPC) measures at immunization sites, extra staff and supplies to ensure physical distancing and triaging at campaign sites, additional per diems due to potential changes in delivery strategies, and estimates of an increase of other operational cost components (such as additional social mobilization and training). The analysis uses data from 10 studies on the cost of conducting an immunization campaign to model each scenario at a low, medium and high intensity level, as well as the combined effect on the cost per dose.

Africa: In the fight against  COVID-19, an unsung  continent

Solomon Zewdu
The Optimist
Here’s my sense of the issue: What we don’t know about Africa and COVID-19 is far less important than what we do know. Because the things we do know are amazing and important and have surely contributed to Africa’s overall success in weathering this disease. We know, for instance, that in January, even as many Western nations hesitated, Ethiopia began intensive screening at Addis Ababa airport. We also know that Africa CDC created its COVID-19 task force on February 5, before the continent had a single case. We know that Rwanda became the first African nation to lock down on March 21st and that many other African countries soon followed: South Africa implemented its comprehensive lockdown when it had only 400 cases and two fatalities. (With a similar-sized population, Italy had more than 9,000 cases and 400 deaths when it acted.)

Combating COVID-19 in India

M. Hari Menon
The Optimist
India has the lowest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths per capita of any large country. The epidemic in India is still evolving, and the next few months will be critical, but the early results are a testament to the decisive action taken to implement screening, social distancing procedures, and ramp up testing from the first days of the pandemic. The rapid response by India’s public health sector, particularly the millions of primary health care workers who lead the last mile of health care delivery, has been remarkable, and has bought the country valuable time to try and prepare the health system for unprecedented pressures. Across the country, an army of volunteers has contributed in multiple ways, from running feeding programs to managing shelters to developing technology to support the response. While the battle is clearly not over, there is reason for hope.


NOTE - Events may be postponed or cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please check with event organizers to confirm events.

2020 Update Course in Clinical Tropical Medicine and Traelers' Health
July 17-18, Online
ASTMH has developed this course as an update in the essential components of tropical medicine and travelers' health. This two-day course is designed for physicians and for all other health care providers working in tropical medicine or travelers' health. Speakers are internationally recognized authorities in the field. Approximately 14.25 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM will be offered for this course. Registration Deadline: July 13

NTD NGO Network Annual Meeting - VIRTUAL
September 8-10, 2020
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!

75th Session of the UN General Assembly 
September 15-30, 2020, New York, NY
All 193 Member States of the Organization are represented in the General Assembly - one of the six main organs of the UN - to discuss and work together on a wide array of international issues covered by the Charter of the United Nations, such as development, peace and security, international law, etc. Every year in September, all the Members meet in this unique forum at Headquarters in New York for the General Assembly session.

September 29 - October 1, 2020, Lomé, Togo
More details to follow.

World Sight Day
October 9, 2020
World Sight Day (WSD) is an annual day of awareness held on the second Thursday of October, to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment. World Sight Day 2020 is on 9 October 2020.

11th IAPB General Assembly - POSTPONED
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.

World Health Summit 
October 25-27, 2020, Berlin, Germany
The World Health Summit is one of the world’s leading strategic forums for global health. Held annually in Berlin, it brings together leaders from politics, science and medicine, the private sector, and civil society to set the agenda for a healthier future. 300 speakers and 2,500 participants from 100 countries take part.

6th World One Health Congress 
October 30 - November 3, 2020, Edinburgh, Scotland
The 6th World One Health Congress is the largest One Health event of the year, where experts and researchers from around the world present their latest scientific research.