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Uniting to Combat NTDs Releases 5th Scorecard & 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.

Sightsavers Billionth Treatment

Dorcas, a seven-year-old girl in Nigeria whose grandfather is blinnd from onchocerciasis, celebrates after receiving the billionth NTD treatment delivered by Sightsavers and its partners.


Lymphatic filariasis

Stephen Hawking commends his father’s role in tackling NTDs

In the 1950s, Frank Hawking was one of the first people to conduct research into and develop treatment for an NTD known as lymphatic filariasis (LF). The preventative chemotherapy drug diethylcarbamazine, which he developed, is still widely used today. Professor Hawking said: “My father’s work into NTDs many years ago highlighted that this is an important area where we must be placing focus."

WashU research spurs new WHO guidelines for disabling tropical disease

Kristina Sauerwein
Washington University School of Medicine in Saint Louis
Research led by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to issue new treatment guidelines aimed at accelerating global elimination of lymphatic filariasis – a devastating tropical disease. . . The new WHO guidelines, announced in November, recommend a three-drug treatment regimen rather than the standard two-drug combination.

Minister wants stakeholders to scale up control of Neglected Tropical Diseases

The Nigerian Expression
“We have made significant progress in treatment coverage in the last four years, thanks to partner’s supports. There is, however, need to drastically scale up mass administration of medicine project in states as government alone cannot control and eliminate NTDs. In addition to the states that have already been supported, we believe that more states such as Oyo, Ogun, Balyesa and Rivers will benefit significantly from the project, if included. We will continue to fight against NTDs; we should always remember that the achievement of our set target will form a lasting legacy for children,” the minister [Prof. Isaac Adewole] said.


Seroprevalence of onchocerciasis in Ogun State, Nigeria after ten years of mass drug administration with ivermectin

OA Surakat et al.
Southern African Journal of Infectious Diseases
This serological study conducted between March and July 2015 investigated the status of onchocerciasis in Ogun State, Nigeria after a decade of mass drug administration (MDA) with ivermectin. Baseline information from the rapid epidemiological mapping of onchocerciasis (REMO) prior to MDA had indicated that Ogun State was meso-endemic to onchocerciasis. Following years of treatment with ivermectin, it has become important to investigate the current status of the disease using more sensitive diagnostic methods.

The man who helped millions keep their sight

Gary Burnett
Sync Ni
So concerned was Campbell to have the drug distributed to those who needed it most, that he lobbied Merck to give it away for free. In 1987, Merck, in an unprecedented move - along with the World Health Organization and the Onchocerciasis Control Programme- began an ambitious drug donation programme to wipe out the disease.


Package of Interventions to Eliminate Schistosomiasis in Lao PDR

Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases
In Lao PDR, the national worm control program within the Ministry of Health is successfully combatting this threat. Along the Mekong River – where snails act as intermediate hosts of the disease – 10 island communities have effectively eliminated schistosomiasis as a public health problem, where around 5,000 people live. Such progress is the result of improvements to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and health education, along with mass drug administration of deworming treatments (such as praziquantel, and benzimidazole).

Funding received to complete paediatric schistosomiasis drug trial

Demran Ali
Imperial College London
The Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium (PPC) is a public-private partnership that was established in 2012 with the aim of developing, registering and making accessible a new paediatric orally disintegrating tablet formulation of praziquantel suitable for preschool-aged children. The European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership and The Global Health Innovative Technology Fund of Japan announced a new partnership on 8 December 2017, that will see them contribute €5.21 million to the PPC for the development of the paediatric praziquantel formulation.

Merck partners with the NALA Foundation to fight schistosomiasis in Ethiopia

Andrea Ayemoba
Africa Business Communities
Merck, a leading science and technology company, today officially signed a three-year partnership with the NTD Advocacy Learning, Action (NALA) Foundation to create greater awareness of schistosomiasis in Ethiopia. The NALA Foundation, a non-governmental organization fighting against the root causes of Neglected Tropical Diseases, will support the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health by applying a community participatory approach. With this newly launched project, Merck is expanding its schistosomiasis-related health education and awareness activities in Africa.

The God of Plague: a long farewell

Robert Bergquist
On Health
Renewed awareness of the crucial importance of transmission has led to a strengthened emphasis on snail control together with health education and the water, sanitation, hygiene (WASH) approach, now promoted in all WHO member states. Another important development is the recent advent of new, far more sensitive diagnostics based on the detection of circulating schistosome antigens. These tools are a necessity when dealing with low infection intensities which are now common thanks to preventive chemotherapy.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

International Experts Discuss Innovative Strategies to Tackle Parasitic Worms

"Although parasitic worms affect one out of five people worldwide, they belong to the so-called neglected tropical diseases, which are intimately linked to poverty," says Jürg Utzinger, Director of Swiss TPH. "While we see certain progress, we need to further foster innovation, refine existing tools and strategies and employ integrated control approaches that are tailored to social-ecological contexts."

Application of PCR-Based Tools to Explore Strongyloides Infection in People in Parts of Northern Australia

Gemma J. Robertson et al.
Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease
Strongyloidiasis, which is caused by infection with the nematode Strongyloides stercoralis, is endemic to areas of northern Australia. Diagnosis in this region remains difficult due to the distances between endemic communities and diagnostic laboratories, leading to lengthy delays in stool processing for microscopy and culture. PCR represents a viable solution to this difficulty, having potential for high sensitivity detection of S. stercoralis, even in older, unpreserved faecal samples

Physiochemical 'fingerprint' of parasitic 'American murderer' uncovered

Science Daily
The physical and chemical 'fingerprint' profile of a parasitic worm, which infects hundreds of millions of people worldwide, has been uncovered by researchers -- a discovery that could allow for more effective and earlier treatment. . . It is the first time the physicochemical make-up of the infective stage of N. americanus has been studied in this detail and the results provide a vital insight into its extremely successful infection mechanism.


India free from active trachoma in children

Aditi Tandon
The Tribune (India)
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines elimination of active trachoma as less than 5 per cent prevalence in the population under study. A Health Ministry commissioned survey conducted by AIIMS experts between 2014 and 2017 has shown active trachoma prevalence of only 0.7 per cent in children aged one to nine years, who were examined. “We have eliminated active trachoma as a public health problem and will seek WHO certification for this. This is a step forward after polio and yaws elimination,” Health Minister JP Nadda said.

Elimination of trachoma as a public health problem in Ghana: Providing evidence through a pre-validation survey

Oscar Debrah et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
In order to achieve elimination of trachoma, a country needs to demonstrate that the elimination prevalence thresholds have been achieved and then sustained for at least a two-year period. Ghana achieved the thresholds in 2008, and since 2011 has been implementing its trachoma surveillance strategy, which includes community and school screening for signs of follicular trachoma and trichiasis, in trachoma-endemic districts. In 2015–2016, the country conducted a district level population-based survey to validate elimination of trachoma as a public health problem.

Tracking Trachoma: How The Gambia Is Eliminating an Ancient Disease

Jori Lewis
Environmental Health Perspectives
This tiny country, which hugs the shores of the river of the same name, has a population of only about 2 million people. Decades of trachoma control and experimentation here are keeping children from the harmful cycle of trachoma infection and reinfection, and are helping people like Awa Jallow deal with the disease’s legacy. The Gambia’s small size and small population made it a perfect laboratory for testing new solutions to an old crisis.

VIDEO: Individuals Working Together to Eliminate Trachoma

Pfizer and 3BL Media
Every day, thousands of individuals work in different capacities toward the global elimination of trachoma, a neglected tropical disease (NTD) and the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness. From manufacturing the antibiotic used to help treat trachoma, to distributing medication in affected communities, to performing surgery on those suffering from trichiasis, the blinding stage of trachoma, the roles in the fight to eliminate this disease are wide-ranging.


Reaching a Billion: Fifth progress report on the London Declaration on NTDs

Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases
these debilitating diseases of poverty and underdevelopment. Five years later, this strong partnership has now reached over a billion people in a single year, making remarkable strides towards achieving the WHO goals for the control, elimination and eradication of 10 NTDs.

In Step Towards 2020

Eric Ottsen
The Huffington Post
Operational Research, as we recognize, is most successful when conducted with and owned by national ministries of health, the implementers of health programs. These ministries are the gateway to Universal Health Coverage and increases in support to them by USAID, DFID, and others since the London Declaration has allowed them to train health workers, provide surveillance mechanisms and undertake other crucial activities to fight NTDs. In addition, this support has enhanced the local health facilities, thereby strengthening the responsiveness of the overall health systems.

Guinea worm, river blindness & elephantiasis are among the world's neglected tropical diseases. A battle is on to wipe them out

Ann M. Simmons
The Los Angeles Times
“In 2016, we reached over a billion people with treatments for NTDs, and … today, there are 400 million less people that actually require treatment than previously,” said Katey Owen, director for neglected tropical diseases at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the partners. . . “The progress is not quite on the magnitude of the problem, but certainly the progress is also very substantive,” Owen said.

Aiming for truly universal health coverage

Kiyoshi Kurokawa
The Japan Times
In the developed world, most of the fundamental tools we need largely already exist. However, in the developing world health needs are often different; many infectious diseases like malaria and tuberculosis, and neglected tropical diseases like leishmaniasis, schistosomiasis, Chagas disease and dengue fever are experiencing dangerous resistance, have no effective treatment or if a treatment does exist, it is ineffective and even dangerous for children — in many cases the primary victims of such maladies.

Facing NTDs requires both WASH and health perspectives

Liang Qu
The Lancet Global Health Blog
Improving water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), is essential to combating multiple neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). This single area of intervention can have impacts beyond health-related outcomes, stretching as far as economic productivity and school attendance. In addition, access to WASH can reduce the substantial burden on already stretched health systems and break the vicious cycle of poverty and disease.


South Sudan closer toward eradicating guinea worm disease: officials

Mu Xuequan
South Sudanese officials said Tuesday they are closer to eradicate the guinea worm disease that has ravaged the war-torn country. First Vice President Taban Deng Gai said despite attaining zero case in the past 12 months, there remains an urgent need to strengthen existing mechanisms to prevent the disease from resurfacing.

Five shots and rabies-free

Jyotsna Singh
Hindu Business Line
According to a 2015 study published in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 59,000 people die of rabies worldwide every year. . . “We need to create awareness about the disease and its prevention. People come to Delhi in the hope of a treatment when none exists. The patient has to be vaccinated at the place of their stay. It is one of the vaccines that should be mandatorily available at the primary health centres,” the nurse said, declining to be named. The vaccine is in short supply and not found in remote areas, she added.

Association between microcephaly, Zika virus infection, and other risk factors in Brazil: final report of a case-control study

Thalia Velho Barreto de Araújo et al.
The Lances Infectious Diseases
A Zika virus epidemic emerged in northeast Brazil in 2015 and was followed by a striking increase in congenital microcephaly cases, triggering a declaration of an international public health emergency. . . The association between microcephaly and congenital Zika virus infection was confirmed. We provide evidence of the absence of an effect of other potential factors, such as exposure to pyriproxyfen or vaccines (tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis, measles and rubella, or measles, mumps, and rubella) during pregnancy, confirming the findings of an ecological study of pyriproxyfen in Pernambuco and previous studies on the safety of Tdap vaccine administration during pregnancy.

Q&A with 2018 President Regina Rabinovich, MD

American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
I also would like to see people looking at diseases where we have made significant advances and think about what can we do to go even farther. That is why we were so interested in having Dr. Anthony Fauci speak to us about the potential to end the HIV/AIDS pandemic. HIV is not one of the diseases we typically focus on within ASTMH, but given that it is a global pandemic, our community interfaces with that constantly. We don’t live in isolation – and the challenges range from access to drugs, differential diagnosis and drug interactions across therapeutic areas, just to name a few. The impressive advances in HIV, and the strategies and end games being discussed about how to put HIV out of business, these can be very instructive across global health.

Tokyo-based fund CEO leads public-private fight against diseases around globe

Tomoko Otake
The Japan Times
BT Slingsby was 13 years old when he made a career decision: to become a medical doctor. . . But that teenage experience was always on his mind, he says. It eventually led him — together with his mentor, Dr. Tachi Yamada, then a Takeda Pharmaceutical executive — to come up with the idea of a unique matching fund where the Japanese government’s contributions to research and development of medicine for the developing world are matched by donations from private sector entities.

An ‘awesome year’? Gates Foundation CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann has a radical view on 2017

Todd Bishop and Clare McGrane
It would be easy for Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to look back on 2017 as a year to forget. . . Desmond-Hellmann reflected on the past year in a podcast with GeekWire this week in her office at Gates Foundation HQ in Seattle. She makes the case for 2017 in her annual Year in Review, published this morning. She points to developments including the near-elimination of polio; the record number of women with access to contraception; milestones in the fight against neglected tropical diseases; new progress against pandemics; unprecedented numbers of students succeeding in college; and the groundswell of women speaking out against sexual assault.

Upcoming Events

World Vaccine Washington
April 3-5, 2018, Washington, DC
Make sure you are at the forefront of the vaccines industry. No matter where your interest lies, we have content, networking and potential partners for you. By bringing eight events together under one roof, you get to choose the sessions which are the most applicable to help your business plan for the future of vaccine research, development and manufacture.

Multilateral Initiative on Malaria 
April 15-18, 2018, Dakar, Senegal
The Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) was established in 1997 with a mission to strengthen and sustain through collaborative research and training, the capacity of malaria-endemic countries in Africa to carry out research that is required to develop and improve tools for malaria control and to strengthen the research-control interphase.

Eradicate Malaria World Congress 2018
July 1-5, 2018, 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.