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The UN Calls for an End to "Civil Death" of Leprosy Patients, ITI Turns 20 & 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.

This year marks 20 years since Pfizer and the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation created the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI)


Lymphatic filariasis

Experts for treating lymphatic filariasis through research

The Hindu
Delivering the second Dr. V. Kumaraswami Endowment Lecture at the National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis (NIRT) on Monday, Eric Ottesen spoke on “solving the lymphatic filariasis problem through research." Talking about the Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis, he said, “The goal is to eliminate lymphatic filariasis as a public health problem and stop the spread of infection by interrupting transmission and reduce suffering caused by the disease through morbidity control efforts.”

Emotional Difficulties and Experiences of Stigma Among Persons with Lymphatic Filariasis in Plateau State, Nigeria

Jibril Abdulmalik et al.
Health and Human Rights Journal
Several studies have explored stigma and its associated socioeconomic consequences among affected persons living with [lymphatic filariasis, or] LF and other [neglected tropical diseases, or] NTDs, but there is a paucity of studies seeking to understand the stigma, associated experiences of exclusion and discrimination, and emotional reactions and consequences among persons living with LF in Nigeria, despite the country having the largest disease burden in Africa.

Building Trust through Lymphatic Filariasis Elimination: A Platform to Address Social Exclusion and Human Rights

Hunter Keys et al.
Health and Human Rights Journal
Hispaniola, the Caribbean island that includes the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic (DR), accounts for 90% of lymphatic filariasis (LF) in the Americas. Both countries have committed to LF elimination by 2020. In the DR, LF occurs mainly in bateyes, or company towns that historically hosted migrant laborers from Haiti. A legacy of anti-Haitian discrimination as well as the 2013 Sentencia, which stripped generations of Haitian-descended Dominicans of their citizenship, ensure that this population remains legally, economically, and socially marginalized.

Drug compliance, coverage key to eliminate lymphatic filariasis, say experts

Umesh Isalkar
The Times of India
As the Centre gears up to roll out triple-drug therapy against lymphatic filariasis (LF) in five districts, including one in Maharashtra, experts have emphasized on monitoring medication compliance and coverage to eliminate the disease from the country. “We are close to the target year of LF elimination and we need strategies that can accelerate/hasten the process to achieve its elimination by 2020,” senior scientist NK Ganguly, former director general of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), told Times of India.

Anti-filarial immunity blocks parasite development and plays a protective role

Prakash Kumar Sahoo, Santosh K. Panda, Ashok Kumar Satapathy and Sanghamitra Pati
Individuals residing in the endemic areas are categorized into different clinical groups such as: EC (endemic controls-free of disease and infection), AS (asymptomatic carriers- free of disease but carries both antigens and microfilaria (Mf) in circulation), CR (cryptic-free of disease and Mf but having circulatory antigen) and CH (chronic-having manifestations of elephantiasis and hydrocele). The immune response to the parasitic infection is well studied, whereas the protective mechanism explaining the fate of antigenemia and filaremia between AS and CR group remains unexplained. This study made insights into the protective immune mechanism responsible for the clearance of Mf from circulation in CR individuals.

Guyana attends lymphatic filariasis meeting in India

Kaiteur News (Guyana)
Guyana wants increasing collaboration with its global partners in vector bionomics research, vector control strategies, and acceptability of the mass drug administration (MDA) exercise, Minister within the Ministry of Public Health Dr Karen Cummings told the just-concluded 10th meeting of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (GAELF) in New Delhi, India. “It is important to note that the Government of Guyana sees the elimination of lymphatic filariasis as a national, regional and global priority and pledges its continued support to the successful implementation of this exercise,” Cummings told the GAELF forum.

India Racing to Apply for Nine Million Courses of Elephantiasis Drugs by July

Anoo Bhuyan
The Wire (India)
With an estimated 31 million people who are infected with what is known as ‘elephant’s foot’ in the country, India has committed to eliminate elephantiasis by 2020. Patients could be benefitted by the drug ivermectin. There are nine million free courses of ivermectin left in pharmaceutical company Merck’s donation program for this year. But India is short on time and has to race to apply for these courses by the end of this month. If India applies in time, the full tranche (27 million tablets for the nine million courses) could arrive by December. If India misses the deadline, India will have to apply for next year’s donation program by Merck.

Department of Health Calabarzon declares Quezon province as Filariasis-free

Analou De Vera
Manila Bulletin
The Department of Health- Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) formally declared Quezon province as Filariasis-free. “The health sector has achieved another victory in its fight against Filariasis. Still, we have to ensure that this status will be maintained through regular conduct of orientation for Filariasis detection and management and transmission assessment survey.” said Regional Director Eduardo Janairo.


Audit of the community-directed treatment with ivermectin (CDTI) for onchocerciasis in Cameroon

Guy-Roger Kamga et al.
Parasites & Vectors
To investigate the potential reasons explaining this high endemicity, a cluster coverage survey was conducted in April-May 2015 in three health districts (HD), to assess the implementation of the CDTI, the 2014 therapeutic coverage and the five-year adherence to treatment. A two-stage cluster design was considered during analyses, with data weighted proportionally to age and gender distribution in the population.

The effect of assortative mixing on stability of low helminth transmission levels and on the impact of mass drug administration

Anneke S. de Vos, Wilma A. Stolk, Sake J. de Vlas and Luc E. Coffeng
Stable low pre-control prevalences of helminth infection are not uncommon in field settings, yet it is poorly understood how such low levels can be sustained, thereby challenging efforts to model them. Here we explore the role of assortative (i.e. non-homogenous) mixing and exposure heterogeneity in helminth transmission, using onchocerciasis as an example.

Nigerian Woman a Pillar for Community Health

The Carter Center
Kate Orji grabs a tall measuring stick and large black plastic bag before heading across her front yard and through the gate of her family’s compound. “I have been a CDD since 1995,” she said proudly. A CDD is a community-directed distributor, meaning she provides drug treatments to her neighbors in Umudurudu village to prevent disease. “People’s eyes get clearer after taking the drug,” she said of Mectizan. “I like my community to be healthy.”


Exposure to bilharzia linked to infant death

Angela Oketch
Daily Nation (Kenya)
Children born to Bilharzia-infected mothers are at risk of dying from measles by age two, a new study by Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) has revealed. The antibodies responsible for fighting the disease in babies whose mothers had bilharzia were found to be low. This meant that they couldn’t fight measles and were more likely to succumb to the disease.

Nearly 30% of Ugandans have schistosomiasis - a highly endemic and neglected parasitic disease

Frederick Makumbi and Simon Peter Kibira
Performance Monitoring and Accountability 2020
Survey results released from the Performance Monitoring and Accountability 2020 (PMA2020) project done by the Health Ministry and Makerere School of Public Health found that Schistosomiasis affects 3 in 10 people (29% prevalence) in Uganda, with children ages 2 to 4 at greatest risk where 4 in 10 are infected (42%). “These data indicate that Schistosomiasis is an urgent public health problem in Uganda,” explains Dr. Fredrick Makumbi, PMA2020 Uganda Principal Investigator, “We must work together, across the health and water and sanitation sectors to develop comprehensive solutions to combat Schistosomiasis throughout the country.”

Is Investment in New Technologies for Diagnosing Schistosomiasis Justified in an Era of Schistosoma Elimination?

Marta G. Cavalcanti and Jose Mauro Peralta
Contagion Live
Schistosomiasis is currently considered controlled and close to elimination in some regions of the world. However, a pitfall remains—the lack of a reliable diagnosis strategy for surveillance of transmission areas. Despite their high specificity, parasitological methods tend to decline in sensitivity in parallel with the decrease of infection endemicity and parasite load. Therefore, parasitological tests such as the Kato-Katz technique do not allow for determining the real prevalence in low-endemic areas before and after praziquantel (PZQ) use.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Pediatric chewable medicine promises improved treatment against intestinal worms

United News of India
The World Health Organization (WHO) will begin distributing a pediatric (chewable) formulation of mebendazole to countries with a high prevalence of soil-transmitted helminthiases (intestinal worms). Mebendazole is one of the medicines recommended by the WHO to reat intestinal worm infections in humans. This formulation was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration in 2016 and is now donated to WHO by the pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson.

Risk of adverse swallowing events and choking during deworming for preschool-aged children

James Wyatt Kernell et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
In areas where the prevalence of soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH) is >20%, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that deworming medication be given periodically to preschool-age children. To reduce risk of choking-related deaths in children <3 years old, WHO recommends that deworming tablets be crushed and given with water. Little is known about how widely this is practiced or its effectiveness. In our sample, risk of choking could have been reduced by 79.5% if deworming tablets were not given to young children who were fussy, fearful, or combative or who struggled to resist tablet administration, with only an 18.4% reduction in drug coverage.

Correspondence: Strongyloides stercoralis: the need for accurate information

Dora Buonfrate, Federico Gobbi, Andrea Angheben and Zeno Bisoffi
The Lancet
We were glad to see that the authors of the Seminar on soil-transmitted helminth infections included Strongyloides stercoralis in their review. As the authors properly state, this parasite is rarely considered by soil-transmitted helminth control programmes, despite the harm potentially caused (hyperinfection being almost invariably fatal).


One round of azithromycin MDA adequate to interrupt transmission in districts with prevalence of trachomatous inflammation

Khumbo Kalua et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
As highly trachoma-endemic countries approach elimination, some districts will have prevalences of trachomatous inflammation–follicular in 1–9-year-olds (TF1-9) of 5.0–9.9%. The World Health Organization (WHO) previously recommended that in such districts, TF prevalence be assessed in each sub-district (groupings of at least three villages), with three rounds of azithromycin treatment offered to any sub-district in which TF≥10%. Given the large number of endemic districts worldwide and the human and financial resources required to conduct surveys, this recommendation may not be practical. In a group of 8 Malawi districts with baseline TF prevalences of 5.0–9.9%, the Malawi Ministry of Health administered one round of azithromycin mass treatment, to the whole of each district, achieving mean coverage of ~80%. Here, we report impact surveys conducted after that treatment.

Hope in sight: Ending the infection that scrapes eyes blind

Meera Senthilingam
Twenty years after efforts began to fight this leading cause of infectious blindness, teams are seeing remarkable and continuous progress. "Communities are happier," Kwadja said, adding that when he returns to the affected villages today, he sees people smiling and pain-free, with fresh-faced children.

Strengthening the links between mapping, planning and global engagement for disease elimination: lessons learnt from trachoma

Paul Courtright et al.
British Journal of Ophthamology
There has been a frame-shift in internal and external perceptions of the global trachoma program, from being an effort working towards disease control in focussed geographical areas, to one in the process of achieving worldwide disease elimination. Multiple factors contributed to the successful implementation of mapping, planning, and cross-sectional engagement of governments, partners and donors. Elimination of trachoma is possible if the right combination of factors is in place. Planning for success is a critical first step. Some remaining challenges must still be addressed if the elimination targets are to be successfully attained.

Ghana makes history on trachoma in Africa

Francis Kokutse
Benjamin Marfo, acting programme manager of Neglected Tropical Diseases Unit, Ghana Health Service, tells SciDev.Net that in order to fight the disease, the government put in place a special programme in 2009 involving surgery of those affected, facial and environmental cleanliness, and providing antibiotics in all the 37 endemic districts in Northern and Upper West regions.

Another Step in Ending Trachoma

Mark Green
In May, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared that Ghana and Nepal have achieved the milestone of eliminating trachoma as a public health problem. Their success demonstrates that sustained commitment and global partnership can lead to significant progress in the fight against Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). Collectively, in both countries, USAID-funded partners delivered and administered 3.5 million treatments, a highly effective private-to-public, people-to-people partnership.


Embodying Law and Embedding Public Health with the Voices of Those Affected: Ending NTDs by 2030

Alice Cruz
Health and Human Rights Journal
This means reuniting the ethics upon which human rights are built with the soteriological concern of the practice of medicine, which places compassion at the center of public health efforts. But this also means embodying law—that is, making law relevant to the individual body, where, as Eleanor Roosevelt noted decades ago, all human rights should begin. Further, it means increasingly embedding public health with the human voices of those whose rights have been violated. We must listen to the human voice and respect the knowledge of persons affected and of civil society if we wish to achieve positive outcomes in public health.

EDITORIAL “Equipping Practitioners”: Linking Neglected Tropical Diseases and Human Rights

Joseph J. Amon and David G. Addiss
Health and Human Rights Journal
More than a decade later, the human rights implications of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are still only infrequently addressed, and there remains a need to “equip practitioners”—in both the NTD and the human rights fields—and to ensure that rights-based principles and approaches are examined and integrated into NTD programs.

Addressing Inequity: Neglected Tropical Diseases and Human Rights

Nina Sun and Joseph J. Amon
Health and Human Rights Journal
While both the World Health Assembly resolution and [Sustainable Development Goal 3, or] SDG 3 provide a strong framework for action, neither explicitly references the human right to the highest attainable standard of health or describes a rights-based approach to [neglected tropical diseases, or] NTDs’ elimination. This article identifies key human rights relevant to NTD control and elimination efforts and describes rights-based interventions that address (1) inequity in access to preventive chemotherapy and morbidity management; (2) stigma and discrimination; and (3) patients’ rights and non-discrimination in health care settings.

How tech can help win the fight against neglected tropical diseases

Ifeanyi Nsofor
African Arguments
Many of those vulnerable to [neglected tropical diseases, or] NTDs live in poor, hard to reach areas. This exacerbates the agonizingly slow pace of progress in the control and elimination of these diseases. But it is now time to pick up the pace. And today, we have access to digital tools that can turbo boost progress. Through applying digital technologies like mobile phones, drones, and satellite data, we can overcome obstacles such as distance, shortage of health workers, lack of health infrastructure, and poor road systems.

How Sierra Leone is beating tropical diseases

The Economist
Sierra Leone is doing better at beating back neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) than almost anywhere else in Africa. Fifteen years ago as much as half the population was infected with the worm that causes onchocerciasis, or river blindness. Many villagers in the south-east used to think it was perfectly normal for people to go blind after 30, says Mary Hodges, from Helen Keller International, a charity that works on blindness and malnutrition. Yet by 2017 only 2% of people carried the worm, and there had been no new cases recorded of people going blind from onchocerciasis in a decade. Elimination is expected by about 2022.

[VIDEO] How to Rid the World of Neglected Tropical Diseases

The good news is the World Health Organization has determined that several neglected tropical diseases are able to be controlled, eliminated and even eradicated. But how do we know which approach is best to manage each unique disease? Watch this video to find out.

SDGs show slow progress, not on track to reach 2030 targets, UN reports

Amy Lieberman
Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals remains uneven, and is not moving fast enough to meet the ambitious 17 goals on poverty, health, and equality by 2030, the United Nations said this week. The U.N. released its annual checkup report on the SDGs on Wednesday, accompanied by a call from U.N. Chief António Guterres that, “we must inject a sense of urgency” in making good on the ambitious 2030 development agenda.

Call for Applications: Scholarships for post-doctoral short-term research visits to the LOEWE Centre DRUID, Germany

The LOEWE Centre DRUID (Novel Drug Targets against Poverty-Related and Neglected Tropical Infectious Diseases) in partnership with the African Research Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (ARNTD), is offering seven short-term visiting research fellowships at selected member-institutions of the DRUID consortium in Hessen, Germany. We welcome applications from highly qualified and motivated post-doctoral African scientists with a strong research focus on neglected tropical infectious diseases (NTDs) and other poverty-associated diseases.


UN rights expert urges action to end “civil death” of persons affected by leprosy

United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
States must act now to stop the widespread, systemic, multi-layered and institutionalised discrimination suffered by persons affected by leprosy and their family members, a UN human rights expert has said. “Persons affected by leprosy and their families have been subjected to serious human rights violations," said Alice Cruz, the UN Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members. "They have been denied their dignity and their basic human rights; subjected to stigmatising language, segregation, separation from their families, and separation within the household, even from their children."

Ageing with Chagas disease: an overview of an urban Brazilian cohort in Rio de Janeiro

Alexandre Gomes Vizzoni et al.
Parasites & Vectors
The main consequence of Chagas Disease (CD) control programs over time is that most CD patients currently under health care are much older individuals when compared to subjects under health care in the 1990s. Together with the ageing of CD patients, the urbanization process of the Brazilian society has increased the probability of chronic-degenerative comorbidities occurring in patients with chronic CD. the aim of this study was to characterize the clinical and epidemiological profile of CD patients followed at the outpatient service of the Evandro Chagas National Institute of Infectious Disease (INI) located in the State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

A Human Right to Shoes? Establishing Rights and Duties in the Prevention and Treatment of Podoconiosis

Arianne Shahvisi, Enguday Meskele and Gail Davey
Health and Human Rights Journal
In this paper, we consider the human rights violations that cause, and are caused by, podoconiosis in Ethiopia. Specifically, we discuss the way in which the right to an adequate basic standard of living is not met in endemic regions, where the following basic necessities are not readily available: appropriate footwear, health education, and affordable, accessible health care. Those living with podoconiosis experience disablement, stigma and discrimination, and mental distress, contributing to greater impoverishment and a reduced quality of life.

Oxitec to Apply New Generation of Self-Limiting Mosquito Technology to Malaria-Spreading Mosquitoes

Michael Jooste
Oxitec, Ltd. today announced it is entering into a cooperative agreement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a new strain of Oxitec’s self-limiting Friendly™ Mosquitoes to combat a mosquito species that spreads malaria in the Western Hemisphere. The parties will build on Oxitec’s successful deployment of Friendly™ Aedes mosquitoes to reduce the vector that spreads dengue, Zika and other diseases and apply the self-limiting and male-selecting technology to anopheline vectors that can spread malaria in endemic regions in the Americas, eastern Africa and South Asia.

Vector competence of Aedes aegypti, Culex tarsalis, and Culex quinquefasciatus from California for Zika virus

Bradley J. Main et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
In this study, we evaluated the laboratory vector competence of Aedes aegypti, Culex quinquefasciatus, and Culex tarsalis that originated in areas of California where Zika virus cases in travelers since 2015 were frequent . . . Our data add to the growing body of evidence supporting the role of Aedes aegypti as a Zika virus vector and refute Culex quinquefasciatus and Culex tarsalis as vectors.

New understanding of the way chikungunya virus protects mice against malaria could lead to improved patient care

Medical Xpress
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) infection may reduce the severity of malaria, according to a discovery by A*STAR scientists, which could lead to the development of new malaria treatments. Spread by different mosquito species in many tropical countries, the two infections commonly occur in tandem, recent studies have found. Cases of CHIKV have risen significantly in the last decade and co-infection with malaria is frequently misdiagnosed as malaria only.

Upcoming Events 

ITI Trachoma Expert Committee Meeting
June 26-28, Atlanta, Georgia
International Trachoma Initiative's Trachoma Expert Committee Meeting is an independent body of internationally recognized experts that meets twice annually to review country applications for donations of Zithromax®. 

Eradicate Malaria World Congress 2018
July 1-5,  Melbourne, Australia
The inaugural World Congress on Malaria - Eradicate Malaria 2018 - will bring together the broad global community including implementers, scientists, funders, governments, policy makers and those directly affected by the disease. The aim is to bring the broad spectrum of the malaria world together for the first time, to further galvanise the effort for the eradication of malaria.

Science in the City: Neglected Tropical Diseases
July 10,  Seattle, Washington
Julie Jacobson, Senior Program Officer, Global Health with The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will discuss controlling neglected tropical diseases. This free even is part of the Pacific Science Center's Global Health and Development lecture series, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and WGHA.

MSF Scientific Days - South Asia 2018
July 16,  New Delhi, India
MSF Scientific Days - South Asia is a conference to showcase research, innovation, and experiences from treatment and humanitarian programmes across the region. The conference provides a platform for stakeholders – health groups, vulnerable communities and treatment providers - to share knowledge and help improve quality of care provided to patients & populations.

5th International Conference on Neglected Tropical & Infectious Diseases
August 29-30,  Boston, Massachussetts
Theme: Uniting all to overcome and fight against NTD's & infectious diseases for improved health protection.

2018 ROP Africa Symposium
September 3-4,  Cape Town, South Africa
The International Paediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus Council and The Department of Pediatric Ophthalmology at The Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, Cape Town are proud to announce the 2018 ROP Africa Symposium.

First International Podoconiosis Conference
September 23, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The theme for this is ‘Research to Implementation: A Call for Global Action’. With this invitation to register, we are also calling for abstracts from all those involved in podoconiosis research and implementation. In order to stimulate high levels of participation, the conference programme will include two sessions of research presentations, one of implementation presentations, and a poster display area. Abstracts for each of these will be selected by competitive process, and prizes will be awarded for the best research and the best implementation presentations. Travel awards will be available for a limited number of selected abstracts.

Access Challenge Universal Health Forum
September 24, New York, New York
The Universal Health Forum will celebrate the drive towards Universal Health Access in Africa. There will be high-level forums on maternal health, child health and malaria, NTDs and NCDs. There will also be an exhibition hall showcasing new technology, diagnostics, and treatments, and a dinner and awards ceremony celebrating leaders from across Africa.

NNN 2018 
September 24-26, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
We are delighted to announce the dates for the 9th NNN annual conference, subject to venue availability.

10th Euro-Global Conference on Infectious Diseases
September 27-29, Rome, Italy
Theme: Advancing in science and improving care to prevent infectious diseases.

International Conference on Migration Health
October 1-3, Rome, Italy
Hosted by the international Society of Travel Medicine.

World Sight Day
October 11, 2018
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. This year, the "Call to Action" for World Sight Day is "Eye Care Everywhere."

67th Annual ASTMH Meeting 
October 28 - November 1, New Orleans, Louisiana
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. 

7th Global Scabies Control Meeting
October 28, New Orleans, Louisiana
We are pleased to announce the date for the 7th Global Scabies Control meeting. The meeting will be held on Sunday 28th October in New Orleans, LA, USA. Please mark this in your diaries now! Further information and registration details will follow in coming months. 

1st International Caparica Congress on Leishmaniasis
October 29-31, Caparica, Portugal
This conference intends to gather researchers working in areas related to Leishmaniasis, from treatment to prevention. In fact, as leishmaniasis is slowly but constantly, increasing worldwide, this conference is addressed to show the latest research trends in this area. The idea is to push forward the battle against this persistent disease. 

Vector-Borne Diseases in the UK - Biennial Meeting, 2018
December 3-4, Norwich, UK
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.