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Triple Drug Therapy for Lymphatic Filariasis Launched in Kenya & 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.

IDA treatment, a new triple drug therapy with the potential to reduce the time to treat and break transmission of lymphatic filariasis (LF) from at least five years down to two years, will be piloted today in a tremendous effort led by the Kenyan Ministry of Health and supported by a consortium of international partners.


Lymphatic filariasis

Breakthrough Lymphatic Filariasis Treatment Piloted in Kenya - A First for Africa

The END Fund
The new approach will have significant implications for the improved health of communities and contribute to the strengthening of health systems in Kenya. With a reduced timeframe for treatment, the burden of LF on the population receiving IDA would be alleviated and the time and resources of trained health workers freed up to focus on other public health issues. This will undoubtedly support efforts to achieve universal health coverage in Kenya, and offer guidance to other countries eligible for IDA treatment.

Study triggers change in WHO treatment guidelines for lymphatic filariasis

Medical Xpress
Researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have shown that a single "cocktail" of three pill-based anti-parasite medications is significantly more effective at killing microscopic larval worms in people diagnosed with lymphatic filariasis, commonly known as elephantiasis, than other standard two-drug combinations previously used in the global effort to eliminate this infectious disease. A combination of all three drugs given simultaneously had never been tested until now. An estimated 120 million people in over 50 tropical and subtropical countries are infected with lymphatic filariasis and another 856 million people are at risk.


How one small not-for-profit company hopes to build a model for tackling needed drugs

Ed Silverman
There are nearly 20 neglected tropical diseases that afflict countless people in poor countries across the globe, but developing useful treatments can be an uphill battle when the pharmaceutical industry often emphasizes medicines that are designed to generate large profits. So Mark Sullivan, a former clinical researcher at Gilead Sciences and GlaxoSmithKline, formed a not-for-profit company called Medicines Development for Global Health in his native Australia. With financial backing from a socially minded investment fund and the cooperation of the World Health Organization, he is about to launch a treatment for river blindness that was recently approved by the FDA. The attempt marks a new model for tackling such diseases and, possibly, for other ailments, too. We spoke with him about the effort. This is an edited version of our conversation.


Prawn aquaculture as a method for schistosomiasis control and poverty alleviation: a win-win approach. . .

Christopher M. Hoover et al.
Recent evidence suggests crustacean snail predators may aid schistosomiasis control programs by targeting the environmental component of the parasite's life cycle through predation of the snail species that serve as intermediate hosts of the parasite. We evaluate costs, benefits, and potential synergies between schistosomiasis control and aquaculture of giant prawns using an integrated bio-economic-epidemiologic model.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Comprehensive evaluation of stool-based diagnostic methods and benzimidazole resistance markers to assess drug efficacy. . .

Johnny Vlaminck et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
To work towards reaching the WHO goal of eliminating soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections as a public health problem, the total number of children receiving anthelmintic drugs has strongly increased over the past few years. However, as drug pressure levels rise, the development of anthelmintic drug resistance (AR) is more and more likely to appear. Currently, any global surveillance system to monitor drug efficacy and the emergence of possible AR is lacking. Consequently, it remains unclear to what extent the efficacy of drugs may have dropped and whether AR is already present. The overall aim of this study is to recommend the best diagnostic methods to monitor drug efficacy and molecular markers to assess the emergence of AR in STH control programs.


Oman becomes first country to be recognised as trachoma-free

Times of Oman
The Sultanate is the first country in the world to be recognised as free of trachoma, according to Oman's Ministry of Health. His Excellency Dr. Ahmed Al Saidi, Minister of Health, received the Sultanate's certificate of the trachoma disease granted by the Middle East Region Alliance for Trachoma, in cooperation with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).

[AUDIO] Trachoma: The SAFE strategy, the successes and a look forward to elimination

Robert Herriman
Outbreak News Today
Trachoma is the leading infectious cause of blindness worldwide. This bacterial neglected tropical disease is targeted to be eliminated as a public health problem in 2020. My guest today says in a post in the blog BugBitten that the future looks bright for trachoma elimination. Joining me to discuss trachoma, the elimination strategy and the successes we’ve already seen is Cara MacFarlane, PhD, Dr MacFarlane is with the Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group and the COUNTDOWN consortium at LSTM.


GBD 2017: a fragile world

The Lancet
Since The Lancet published the first Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD) over 10 years ago, every new iteration has brought improvements in data quality and quantity. With the sharpening of these estimates came a reassuring message: year on year, they portrayed an ever-healthier world. Careful reading of the results of GBD 2017 shatter this comforting trend of gradual improvement and instead show plateauing mortality rates on a background of faltering and uneven progress, era-defining epidemics, and dramatic health worker shortages. Instead of the progress updates we have become accustomed to, GBD 2017 comes as an urgent warning signal from a fragile and fragmented world.

Could these beautiful islands help stop killer diseases?

James Logan
BBC News
Medical researchers have been working on the Bijagos Islands for several years to see if they can get rid of certain diseases from certain islands. The reason that the islands work so well as a natural laboratory is their remoteness. While this makes some everyday activities difficult, it is a helpful feature when trying to eradicate disease.

Taking a systems-change approach to ending NTDs

Catherine Cheney
When Jeff Glenn conducted interviews on neglected tropical diseases, a group of parasitic and bacterial diseases that affect the world’s poorest, he found there was a certain topic that people did not want to discuss on the record. “People would ask to go off-record, and then say something about how we're completely ignoring water and sanitation, and that’s going to hurt us in the long run, because we're not going to reach the goals with just mass drug administration,” he said.

In potential boon to urban poor, Gates Foundation recommits to toilet tech

Tanvi Nagpal
At the Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing on Nov. 6, Bill Gates committed the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to scaling up its investments in new toilet technologies. Eight companies based in India, China, the U.S. and Thailand, which had previously received grants from the foundation, displayed their pathogen-killing toilets and small-scale waste treatment plants that can disinfect fecal sludge.

Prof. Alan Fenwick Wins Kyelem Prize for Contributions in the Fight against Neglected Tropical Diseases

NTD Support Center
Professor Alan Fenwick was awarded the fourth annual Kyelem Prize on October 27, 2018 at the annual meeting of the Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases (COR-NTD). The prize, set up in honor of the late Dr. Dominque Kyelem, recognizes extraordinary contributions to the field of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

[VIDEO] WHO Africa Innovation Challenge

World Health Organization African Region
The World Health Organization (WHO) in the African Region will soon launch the WHO Africa Innovation Challenge calling for innovations research and community initiatives that provide new solutions to improving access to healthcare in Africa.


Eradicating dracunculiasis: Chad and South Sudan continue to report human cases

Ashok Moloo
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization (WHO) has received reports of 21 human cases of dracunculiasis for the period 1 January – 30 September 2018, including 11 confirmed cases from Chad and nine from South Sudan

Mobile workers in north Ethiopia vulnerable to visceral leishmaniasis transmission

Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is a life-threatening disease transmitted by the bite of a sand fly. Between 3,700 to 7,400 people in Ethiopia are infected annually, particularly in the northern, agricultural regions with favorable climate and environment to sand fly vectors. A study published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases by Rebecca Coulborn from Epicentre, France, and colleagues suggests that transitory populations in Ethiopia may be particularly vulnerable to acquisition of and death from VL infections.

Evaluation of point-of-care tests for cutaneous leishmaniasis diagnosis in Kabul, Afghanistan

Martijn M.T.Vink et al.
Kabul (Afghanistan) is a major focus of cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) caused by Leishmania tropica. Microscopy remains the reference test for diagnosis despite its low performance. We evaluated whether Loopamp™ Leishmania Detection Kit (Loopamp) and CL Detect™ Rapid Test (CL Detect), detecting Leishmania DNA and antigen, respectively could improve CL diagnosis.

Age and gender trends in insecticide-treated net use in sub-Saharan Africa: a multi-country analysis

Bolanle Olapeju et al.
Malaria Journal
The degree to which insecticide-treated net (ITN) supply accounts for age and gender disparities in ITN use among household members is unknown. This study explores the role of household ITN supply in the variation in ITN use among household members in sub-Saharan Africa.

The calendar of epidemics: Seasonal cycles of infectious diseases

Micaela Elvira Martinez
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Here, I aim to motivate future studies of disease seasonality by drawing attention to the importance of seasonality in public health, medicine, and biology. I will explore documented seasonal cycles in human infections, including notifiable and neglected tropical diseases. I also aim to present a holistic view of hypothesized drivers of seasonality for each disease, with the caveat that, for the majority of infections, the current state of the science is insufficient to draw conclusions about seasonal timing, seasonal magnitude, and geographic variation in incidence.

Stakeholders in WASH call for effective private sector involvement

Stakeholders in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector have called for effective private sector involvement in sanitation service delivery. According to them, this would enhance the coverage, services and quality of sanitation related facilities. They made the call at a National Private Sector Engagement forum organised by Voice for Change Partnership (V4CP) Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (V4CP WASH) Civil society organisations (CSOs), with support from SNV Ghana, a non-governmental organisation under the Voice for Change in Accra.

2019 Oak Human Rights Fellowship Call for Applications

Oak Institute for Human Rights
The Oak Institute for Human Rights at Colby College is pleased to issue this call for applications for the 2019 Oak Fellowship. Our theme is water rights. We are looking for a human rights activist who is committed to exposing and/or addressing human rights violations or abuses in relation to water. These might include, for example: the privatization of water for profit; the destruction, contamination, and pollution of water resources; the denial of sanitation infrastructure, supporting the spread of disease; environmental racism; and the legal or illegal violation of communities’ water sovereignty. Applications are due in full no later than November 30, 2018.

Upcoming Events 

Why and how to engage in Voluntary National Reviews?
November 21, Webinar
This webinar intends to provide an introduction to the VNR quick guide developed by Together 2030, CAFOD and Uniting to Combat NTDs and create a space to discuss the opportunities for engaging in the process. In addition, this webinar will offer a national perspective from civil society from countries that presented or will present their national voluntary reviews and will share their experience at engaging in the VNRs process at national level. 

Vector-Borne Diseases in the UK - Biennial Meeting, 2018
December 3-4, Norwich, United Kingdom
This meeting will be the fourth we have held on this topic, with previous meetings in 2012, 2014 and 2016, and like before we will bring together members of the major UK research groups who have an interest in vectors or vector-borne diseases which could be a threat to the UK; groups with wider but related areas of interest; members of key UK Government Departments and their Agencies; and representatives of European organisations with an interest in this topic. 

Women Deliver 2019 Conference 
June 3-6, 2019, 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.

IAPB Council of Members 2019
October 5-8, 2019, Nairobi, Kenya
The next Council of Members will be held 5-8 October 2019 in Nairobi, alongside local partners Sightsavers.