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USAID Launches Act to End NTDs | East & 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.  

Act to End NTDs | East

KAMPALA, UGANDA — The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) formally launched Act to End Neglected Tropical Diseases | East, a new global program working to strengthen countries’ abilities to control and eliminate neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). RTI International will lead the consortium implementing the program.


Lymphatic filariasis

Systematic sampling of adults as a sensitive means of detecting persistence of lymphatic filariasis following MDA in Sri Lanka

Ramakrishna U. Rao, Sandhya D. Samarasekera, Kumara C. Nagodavithana, Manjula W. Punchihewa, Udaya S. B. Ranasinghe, Gary J. Weil
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Results from this study show that adult-TAS [transmission assessment survey] efficiently detected residual filarial infections in this EU that had passed school-TAS. Adult-TAS results were highly correlated with results from prior surveys that used molecular xenomonitoring (MX) to detect filarial parasite DNA in pools of mosquitoes collected in the same study areas. Thus adult-TAS and MX should be considered as an alternative surveillance approaches for verifying that LF has been eliminated following MDA and for identifying areas that require additional intervention.


Genomic analyses of aminoacyl tRNA synthetases from human-infecting helminths

Preeti Goel, Suhel Parvez and Amit Sharma
BMC Genomics
Here we provide a comprehensive computational analysis of the aminoacyl tRNA synthetase (aaRS) enzyme family from 27 human-infecting helminths. Our analyses support the idea that several helminth aaRSs can be targeted for drug repurposing or for development of new drugs. For experimental validation, we focused on Onchocerciasis (also known as “river blindness”), a filarial vector-borne disease that is prevalent in Africa and Latin America. We show that halofuginone (HF) can act as a potent inhibitor of Onchocerca volvulus prolyl tRNA synthetase (OvPRS).

Emeka Offor and the war against river blindness

Sun News
The endemic problem of Onchocerciasis—river blindness and its ravaging health, economic, and social effects in Africa, particularly in Nigeria, which accounts for about 40% of the global burden of the disease, has prompted Sir Emeka Offor to take more and sustained action to stem off the widespread of the disease in his country.


Dynamical Analysis of a Schistosomiasis japonicum Model with Time Delay

Fumin Zhang, Shujing Gao, Huahua Cao, Youquan Luo
Journal of Applied Mathematics and Physics
In this paper, a Schistosomiasis japonicum model incorporating time delay is proposed which represents the developmental time from cercaria penetration through skins of human hosts to egg laying. By linearizing the system at the positive equilibrium and analyzing the associated characteristic equations, the local stability of the equilibria is investigated. And it proves that Hopf bifurcations occur when the time delay passes through a sequence of critical value. Furthermore, the explicit formulae for determining the stability and the direction of the Hopf bifurcation periodic solutions are derived by using techniques from the normal form theory and Center Manifold Theorem. Some numerical simulations which support our theoretical analysis are also conducted.

A 5-Year intervention study on elimination of urogenital schistosomiasis in Zanzibar...

Stefanie Knopp et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
On the Zanzibar islands, urogenital schistosomiasis has been successfully controlled over the past decades. The Zanzibar Elimination of Schistosomiasis Transmission (ZEST) project implemented from 2011/12 through 2017 aimed to eliminate urogenital schistosomiasis as a public health problem from Pemba and to interrupt S. haematobium transmission from Unguja in 5 years. In a cluster-randomized trial, we investigated the impact of biannual treatment of the population with praziquantel alone or combined with snail control or behavior change interventions. After five years of interventions, the overall S. haematobium prevalence was reduced to <3% in schoolchildren and adults. Heavy infection intensities were observed in <1% of the surveyed population groups. Urogenital schistosomiasis was eliminated as a public health problem from most of the study sites on Pemba and Unguja. The prevalence was significantly lower in 2017 compared with 2011/12, but transmission was not interrupted. To sustain and advance the gains made by ZEST, continued interventions that are adaptive and tailored to the micro-epidemiology of S. haematobium in Zanzibar are needed.

Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium takes next step towards access with continued support from the GHIT Fund

The Nigerian Voice
A supplementary US$ 4.1 million investment from the GHIT Fund has further reinforced the Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium’s efforts to develop, register and provide access to a novel orally dispersible praziquantel tablet formulation for children. It will help the Consortium in its efforts of bringing closer the treatment of preschool-age children suffering from schistosomiasis. “I am grateful and excited that the GHIT Fund has reaffirmed its confidence in the Consortium and in its goal to fill the current treatment gap that exists for preschool-age children suffering from schistosomiasis,” said Dr Jutta Reinhard-Rupp, Chair of the Consortium Board and Head of the Global Health Institute of Merck. “This is one of the most prevalent parasitic diseases worldwide, but we lack a suitable child-friendly formulation of praziquantel, which is regarded as the ‘standard of care’ treatment for schistosomiasis. It means that around 28 million infected preschool-age children are currently left untreated.”

GSA consultation meeting: Accelerating Progress for Schistosomiasis Control and Elimination Post-2020

Global Schistosomiasis Alliance
Following a consultation with its members and the [World Health Organization, or] WHO, the [Global Schistosomiasis Alliance, or] GSA strongly supports the proposal of the ambitious goal of interruption of transmission in selected countries and an interim and complementary goal of reducing the global burden of schistosomiasis disease. GSA has proposed a set of supporting sub-targets and indicators to drive further action. These cover a comprehensive set of interventions implemented in a context-tailored manner, including treatment of all at-risk populations, improving diagnosis and the treatment of morbidities including female genital schistosomiasis, snail control measures and improvements to water supply, sanitation services and improved behaviours for infection prevention. With these interventions, together with continuing availability and better use of praziquantel and the accountability framework to secure action, we believe we can successfully move forward to control and eliminate schistosomiasis.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Associations between soil-transmitted helminthiasis and viral, bacterial, and protozoal enteroinfections...

Anna N. Chard et al.
Parasites and Vectors
The impact of [soil-transmitted helminthiasis, or] STH on odds of concurrent microparasite co-infection may differ by microparasite taxa, whereby STH infection was negatively associated with viral infections but positively associated with bacterial and protozoal infections. Results suggest that efforts to reduce STH through preventive chemotherapy could have a spillover effect on microparasite infections, though the extent of this impact requires additional study. The associations between STH and concurrent microparasite infection may reflect a reverse effect due to the cross-sectional study design. Additional research is needed to elucidate the exact mechanism of the immunomodulatory effects of STH on concurrent enteric microparasite infection.

Helminth infections in light of an ongoing intervention in endemic areas of Guragae zone, Southern Ethiopia...

Teha Shumbej and Tadele Girum
Tropical Diseases, Travel Medicine and Vaccines
The present study attempted to determine the status, infection intensity, and factors associated with helminths among [school-age children, or] SAC in Guragae zone. . . Despite the fact that Ethiopia planned to eliminate helminth infection-related morbidity by 2020, this study showed that helminth infection is prevalent in the study area. Efforts should be made to improve hygienic practices of the schoolchildren in addition to school-based deworming. Moreover, the deworming program should also focus on reaching those SAC who do not attend school through communal social places to achieve the targeted goal in the study area in particular and nationwide in general.


Understanding the spatial distribution of trichiasis and its association with trachomatous inflammation—follicular

Rebecca Mann Flueckiger et al.
BMC Infectious Diseases
The lack of consistent risk factors beyond community-level [follicular trachoma, or] TF raises concerns that the models identified artefacts that are not generalizable, such as non-trachomatous trichiasis, or that the clinical history of trachoma varies substantially between settings. This underlines the importance of understanding local context when designing interventions for at-risk populations. Whilst our findings are not generalizable across countries, they can provide general direction for where to initiate case finding activities.

Innovative project returns sight to thousands with cataracts in East Africa

Sarah Newey
The Telegraph
A novel project which “piggybacks” on the success of trachoma treatment camps in East Africa has restored the sight of more than 21,000 people suffering from cataracts. . . The coordinated approach to community health (Catch) programme, part-funded by the UK’s Department of International Development (DFID), has sought to close treatment gaps by tapping into existing networks established to eradicate trachoma.


New USAID Program to Help Countries Sustain Efforts to Eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases

RTI International
Building on more than 12 years of USAID-supported efforts to control and eliminate NTDs—including the USAID ENVISION program, led by RTI—Act to End NTDs | East will partner with governments and other stakeholders to build sustainable, country-led NTD programming, with a focus on national planning and financing processes. The program also works with ministries of health and education on school health and deworming programs. Together, these efforts will support countries in their journey to self-reliance, supporting efforts to create sustainable NTD programming within robust and resilient health systems. The program’s activities will take place in 13 countries: Bangladesh, DRC, Ethiopia, Haiti, Indonesia, Laos, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Philippines, Tanzania, Uganda, and Vietnam.

Collateral Benefits of Preventive Chemotherapy — Expanding the War on Neglected Tropical Diseases

Peter J. Hotez, Alan Fenwick, and David H. Molyneux
New England Journal of Medicine
The collateral and extended effects of preventive chemotherapy, many of which were unanticipated, have reduced disease burdens and saved lives on a scale that appears to have exceeded the intended impact on seven neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) — the three major soil-transmitted helminth infections (ascariasis, trichuriasis, and hookworm infection), schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, and trachoma...Implementation of the World Health Organization (WHO) preventive chemotherapy strategy has resulted in substantial reductions in the disease burden and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs, or lost years of healthy life) — as much as a 46% decrease in DALYs — attributable to the seven NTDs, allowing some countries to achieve their elimination targets for trachoma, lymphatic filariasis, and onchocerciasis. Moreover, it has led to cost savings for the world’s poorest people, by reducing catastrophic health expenditures.

Cameroon: Neglected Tropical Diseases - Over 1,000 Surgeries Conducted in Two Regions

All Africa
A workshop to end the five- year project on the Morbidity Management and Disability Prevention (MMDP) of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) conducted in the North and Far North Regions officially ended yesterday May 7, 2019 in Yaounde with tremendous results recorded. . . The Country Director of Helen Keller, Ismael Teta, said throughout the project's life, over 1,000 surgeries was performed on vulnerable people in both regions suffering from the lymphoedema (elephantiasis) and hydrocele. He noted that approximately 900 people received trichiasis surgery, 106 underwent hydrocele surgeries, 80 previous hydrocele patients were reached for follow-up, 175,156 people were screened of trichiasis (TT), 983 were confirmed to have TT and 112 lymphedema cases were trained in self-care.


Topical paromomycin for New World cutaneous leishmaniasis

Néstor Sosa et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
In Panama, most of the [cutaneous leishmaniasis, or] CL cases are caused by L. panamensis and, the first line of treatment is pentavalent antimony, given parenterally for 20 days. These systemic regimen is associated with toxicities that can limit the patient from receiving a full course of treatment. Alternative therapies are needed particularly for patients with mild disease, no mucosal involvement, no immunosuppression, and for patients living in areas with scarce infrastructure. Therefore, less toxic, non-parenteral new therapies against CL are urgently needed. We conducted a comparative clinical study that evaluated Paromomycin topical creams (Paromomycin alone versus Paromomycin+Gentamicin) for the treatment of cutaneous leishmaniasis (n = 399) in three sites of country. Our study demonstrated the efficacy of these preparations against New World leishmanial species (mostly L. panamensis) with a cure rate close to 80%.

Vaccination with a chikungunya virus-like particle vaccine exacerbates disease in aged mice

Maria T. Arévalo, Ying Huang, Cheryl A. Jones, Ted M. Ross
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
The disease caused by chikungunya virus typically resolves itself within weeks, but may be persistent and more severe in elderly individuals. Currently, there are no licensed vaccines, although a virus-like particle vaccine is currently being tested in Phase II clinical trials. In this study, we formulated chikungunya virus-like particles with adjuvants to skew and enhance the immune responses against chikungunya, and vaccinated adult and aged mice. Our aim was to identify a vaccine formulation that would protect adult and elderly populations. Results showed that the unadjuvanted vaccine was very effective in adult mice, eliciting strong virus-neutralizing antibody titers, and protecting mice against chikungunya infection and disease. In contrast, chikungunya disease was exacerbated in mice vaccinated with the virus-like particle vaccine alone or with QuilA adjuvant. This study highlights the need for an improved vaccine approach to safely and effectively vaccinate the elderly against chikungunya viral infections.

Loss of cytoplasmic incompatibility in Wolbachia-infected Aedes aegypti under field conditions

Perran Ross, Scott Ritchie, Jason Axford and Ary Hoffmann
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Heat stress could therefore adversely affect the success of disease control programs depending on the location and nature of the field breeding sites. . . Under these conditions the amount of Wolbachia in adult mosquitoes was reduced to less than 1% of laboratory-reared mosquitoes on average, while some mosquitoes were cleared of Wolbachia entirely. In contrast, wMel was stable when mosquitoes were reared under cooler conditions in full shade. Field trials with the wMel strain are now underway in over 10 countries, but high temperatures in some locales may constrain the ability of Wolbachia to invade natural mosquito populations and block disease transmission.

Guinea Worm Wrap-Up #260

The Carter Center
As The Carter Center counts down to the end of Guinea worm disease, we are pleased to bring you the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Guinea Worm Wrap-Up #260. There were 28 human cases and 1,102 animal infections reported in 2018.

New mental motivators project marks Mental Health Awareness Week

Charity Today
This Mental Health Awareness Week, international charity Lepra is calling for greater awareness about the high percentage of mental health issues, including anxiety and depression, which develop after people are diagnosed with leprosy or lymphatic filariasis. . . Geoff Prescott, Chief Executive at Lepra said: “Leprosy is a mental health disaster. For us, Mental Health Week is about highlighting that 1 in 2 people suffer from mental health issues caused by leprosy and LF diagnosis. We are delighted to be launching our new Mental Motivators project, providing both physical and mental health care to those suffering from leprosy or LF.”

Meet Dr. Ibtissam Khoudri from Morocco’s Ministry of Health

Jessica Cook and Andie Tucker
Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy
Dr. Ibtissam Khoudri leads the leprosy program in Morocco’s Ministry of Health and is a chairperson for the Operational Excellence working sub-group 5. We spoke to her about Morocco’s success in reducing leprosy, the critical issues countries face in trying to get to zero leprosy, and how the partnership’s work can help.

Interconnectedness of Public Health Approach: Profile of Humphrey Fellow Ye Min Htet

Neha Jhaveri
“NTD-SC really acknowledges the role of social science, which is key to identifying and targeting gaps in coverage and optimizing impact in these areas,” he said. “In general, the field of public health is way more complex than the biomedical research informed approach. Public health works with communities and acknowledges the individual. Similar to HIV, where social factors are part and parcel of the disease transmission and approach, NTDs intersect with a variety of contextual factors like poverty and gender. While the biomedical aspect brings progress, it’s not, and should not be treated as, the magic bullet. There are many more overlapping aspects that need to be considered.”

Upcoming Events 

4th International Conference on Infectious Diseases: Control and Prevention
May 17-18, 2019, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 
The Infection Control Conference is hosting presentations from editors of eminent refereed journals, renowned and active investigators and decision makers in the field of infectious diseases, microbiology, immunology, infection control and prevention.

72nd World Health Assembly: World Dengue Day Civil Society Side Event
May 24, 2019, Geneva, Switzerland
On the occasion of the 72nd World Health Assembly, the International Society for Neglected Tropical Diseases would like to invite you to participate in a Denge Civil Society Side Event. Global and multi-sectoral coordination across the fields of healthcare, vector control, WASH, community engagement and many more is urgently needed and a global movement for a World Dengue Day is gathering pace.  

A Country Model for Zero Leprosy
May 29, 2019, Webinar
Our country model supports national programmes in their efforts towards zero leprosy. This approach will strengthen programmes by helping countries take stock of their current activities and needs through country reviews; working with countries to create roadmaps that lead towards zero leprosy; supporting country-led strategies through an online toolkit of best practices, created by national programme managers and partners; and facilitating national partnerships in countries to mobilize resources and partnerships across sectors. 

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.

Bill Foege Global Health Awards
June 6, 2019, Atlanta, Georgia
MAP International annually presents the Bill Foege Global Health Awards to recognize people and organizations whose contributions to the progress of global health measure substantially. Leaders in the global health community consider Dr. Bill Foege as a folk hero in the global health community, crediting him as "the man most responsible for eradicating smallpox."

WHO AFRO NTD Biennial Programme Managers Meeting
July 15-19, 2019, Location TBA
Please hold the week of July 15, 2019 as the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa will be holding its Biennial NTD Programme Managers Meeting. This meeting will focus on Preventive Chemotherapy and Case Management diseases. We will be in touch soon to confirm the location and share all relevant documents.

11th European Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health
September 16-20, 2019, 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.

The 10th NTD NGO Network (NNN) Conference
September 17-19, 2019, 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, 2019, 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.

Sustainability & Development Conference
October 11-14, 2019, 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.

ASTMH 68th Annual Meeting
November 20-24, 2019, 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, 2019, 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. Proposals will be accepted from now until 30 May 2019.