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WHO to Formally Launch New Road Map for Next Decade & 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.  

Students receiving a deworming treatment at a school in Rwanda. 

Photo: Gabriel Dusabe/The END Fund.

Lymphatic filariasis

Implementation challenges and opportunities for improved mass treatment uptake for lymphatic filariasis elimination. . .

Doris W. Njomo et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
As part of a larger study to address barriers of drug uptake in Kenya, we collected qualitative data to explore the challenges and opportunities for improved drug uptake in two wards of Kilifi County. The data was collected through focus group discussions and in-depth interviews and analyzed. For drug uptake to be improved, the CDDs’ mentioned challenges related to how their selection is done, number of CDDs engaged, quality of their training, quantities of drugs issued to them, supervision and motivation that need to be addressed. The communities targeted for treatment need well scheduled health education activities on elephantiasis, awareness creation on drug distribution and drug reaction for them to understand the importance of receiving the treatment.

Elephantiasis survey planned in 12 districts in mountains

Arjun Poudel
The Kathmandu Post (Nepal)
Five rounds of the mass drug administration programme was held in most of the districts and the disease has been so far controlled in 53.However, in some districts, the disease has not come under control even after the 12 rounds of mass drug administration. . . According to Panta, lack of awareness, rumors about side effects of medicines, and the prevalence of floating populations were among the reasons for poor coverage and failure of the programmes. “We have started asking people to take the medicine in front of the health workers after the disease did not come under control even after seven-eight rounds of mass medication,” Panta added. “We found that people carried the medicine home but did not take it.”

A trap for nematodes

University of Bonn
Phys Org
Researchers led by the University of Bonn have now investigated a mechanism by which the immune system attacks the filariae. Certain immune cells, the eosinophil granulocytes, release DNA that forms a kind of web around the larvae and traps them. The researchers also identified which protein "turns on" the mechanism, known as the Dectin-1 receptor.


Onchocerca volvulus and epilepsy: A comprehensive review using the Bradford Hill criteria for causation

Robert Colebunders et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Applying the Bradford Hill criteria suggests consistent epidemiological evidence that O. volvulus infection is a trigger of epilepsy. However, the pathophysiological mechanisms responsible for seizure induction still need to be elucidated.

Why onchocerciasis transmission persists after 15 annual ivermectin mass drug administrations in South-West Cameroon

Armelle Forrer et al.
BMJ Global Health
CDTI alone is unlikely to achieve elimination in those high transmission areas where low participation is commonly associated with the fear of adverse events, despite the current quasi absence of high-risk levels of loiasis. Such persisting historical memories and fear of ivermectin might impact adherence to CDTI also in areas with historical presence but current absence of loiasis. Because such issues are unlikely to be tackled by CDTI adaptive measures, alternative strategies are needed for onchocerciasis elimination where negative perception of ivermectin is an entrenched barrier to community participation in programmes.

An Integrated Approach to Identify New Anti-Filarial Leads to Treat River Blindness, a Neglected Tropical Disease

Rahul Tyagi et al.
Many of these drugs are amenable to structural optimization, and also have known canonical targets, making them promising candidates for further optimization that can lead to identifying and characterizing novel anti-macrofilarial drugs.

Ivermectin Treatment Coverage Validation in Two Onchocerciasis Endemic Districts in Ethiopia: A Community-Based . . .

Churko C et al.
Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare
In conclusion, the treatment coverage of onchocerciasis in this survey was higher than minimum national desired therapeutic coverage. Treatment coverage in Wombera was higher than Itang special district. In addition, children who attended school had a higher chance of swallowing the drug.


Association of schistosomiasis and HIV infections: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Pragna Patel et al.
International Journal of Infectious Diseases
Highlights: People with schistosomiasis have higher odds of being infected with HIV. Preventing and treating schistosomiasis may prevent HIV among adolescent girls. This research agenda will elucidate the interplay between HIV and schistosomiasis. Comprehensive integrated programs will ensure the lifelong health of young women. The WHO’s mass drug administration policy may be beneficial in preventing HIV.

Prevalence, infection intensity and geographical distribution of schistosomiasis among . . . children in . . . Tanzania

Humphrey Deogratias Mazigo, Cecilia Uisso, Paul Kazyoba, Andreas Nshala and Upendo J. Mwingira
Scientific Reports
Although, Tanzania is known to be highly endemic to schistosomiasis, there is paucity of data on the geographical distribution of schistosomiasis in potential large water bodies in the country. Thus, the present study was conducted to determine the prevalence, infection intensities and geographical distribution of schistosomiasis along villages located on the shoreline of Lake Nyasa, southern Tanzania. . . These finding provide insights that can provide guidance in planning and implementation of MDA approach and other recommended measures such as improvement in sanitation, provision of clean water and behaviour changes through public health education.

A novel fluorescence immunochromatographic assay strip for the diagnosis of schistosomiasis japonica

Yuanxi Shen et al.
Parasites & Vectors
Based on the rSPG-RFP protein that we developed, strip detection can be completed within 15 min. Heightened sensitivity allows the strip to accurately identify schistosome antibodies in serum. In conclusion, this method is convenient, feasible, rapid and effective for detecting S. japonicum.

Use of a Tablet-Based System to Perform Abdominal Ultrasounds in a Field Investigation of Schistosomiasis-Related Morbidity . .

Anne Straily et al.
The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Using ultrasound to measure hepatosplenic disease severity is an accepted method of determining schistosomiasis-related morbidity; however, ultrasound has not historically been considered a field-deployable tool because of equipment limitations and unavailability of expertise. A point-of-care tablet-based ultrasound system was used to perform abdominal ultrasounds in a field investigation of schistosomiasis-related morbidity in western Kenya; during the study, other pathologies and pregnancies were also identified via ultrasound, and participants referred to care. Recent technological advances may make it more feasible to implement ultrasound as part of a control program and can also offer important benefits to the community.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Deworming achieves progress towards 2030 NTD goals sub-Saharan Africa

Christina Faust
We would like to start the new year with good news - there has been great progress towards targets of eliminating soil-transmitted helminths in sub-Saharan Africa but there is still some work to be done.

Assessment of the prevalence of intestinal parasitic infections and associated habit and culture-related risk factors among . .

Gedamu Gebreamlak Hailu and Esubalew Tesfahun Ayele
BMC Public Health
High prevalence of IPIs among the study participants demands improvement of environmental sanitation, personal hygiene, and health education regarding the potential habit and culture-related risk factors.

Qualitative systematic literature review of global soil-transmitted helminthiasis prevalence and intensity studies

Michael R. Diaz et al.
Children Without Worms
STH prevalence and intensity measures form the basis of WHO goals and action thresholds for national programs in endemic countries. Considering the importance of these STH burden measures, we conducted a published literature review from 2006 (start of drug donations) through 2018 to study the quality and distribution of evidence. We grouped the resulting studies according to their possible utility and application towards tracking the WHO and national program progress. Results confirmed the paucity and diversity of study methods, challenging generalization across regions or even countries, and lost efficiency of sparse research resources in this area. We conclude by suggesting standardized approaches to guide research that is closely linked to program actions and can guide global policy and progress. (Note: Must provide information to receive resource).


Efforts to Eradicate Trachoma in South Sudan

Samantha Rodriguez-Silva
The Borgen Project
Many individuals living in remote areas in South Sudan suffer from the deteriorating effects of trachoma. With the help of the government and nonprofit organizations, citizens can access long-term relief from their symptoms and prevent future infection. The optimism and determination of the citizens to find a cure and get better forecasts a positive outlook for the eradication of trachoma in South Sudan.


Neglected tropical diseases: WHO to formally launch new road map for next decade

Ashok Moloo
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization (WHO) will formally launch its new road map for neglected tropical diseases on 28 January 2021. Registration is open for the virtual launch which comprises a 2-hour programme with the participation of Heads of State, Ministers of Health of several countries, WHO Director-General and Regional Directors and partner organizations.

Assessment of surveillance core and support functions regarding neglected tropical diseases in Kenya

Arthur K. S. Ng’etich, Kuku Voyi and Clifford M. Mutero
BMC Public Health
There was evidence of low-performing surveillance functions regarding PC-NTDs especially at the peripheral surveillance levels. Case detection, registration and confirmation, reporting, data analysis and feedback performed sub-optimally at the facility and community levels. Additionally, support functions including standards and guidelines, supervision, training and resources were particularly weak at the sub-national level. Improved PC-NTDs surveillance performance sub-nationally requires strengthened capacities.

Resource tracking for neglected tropical disease programmes: the first step for developing a sustainable financing strategy

Xiao Xian Huang, Hapsatou Toure and Gautam Biswas
Transactions of The Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
The adequacy of resources for programme implementation is a premise for achieving the targets set in the road map for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) 2021–2030. During the decade 2010–2020, international health aid and pharmaceutical donations have driven progress to control and eliminate NTDs. In the next decade, domestic financing will be critical to sustain NTD control and elimination programmes. Tracking domestic resources for NTD programmes through country health accounts, a relatively mature health system resource tracking platform, could be the first step in raising the visibility of NTDs in the discussion of national health resource allocation.

How Systems Thinking Can Help Stop Neglected Tropical Diseases

Susie Allen
Yale Insights
Despite being easy and inexpensive to treat, a group of common bacterial and parasitic infections kill hundreds of thousands of people in tropical countries each year. In a new paper, Yale SOM’s Teresa Chahine and her co-authors map the complex system of stakeholders surrounding the diseases and identify key leverage points for making progress.


Scientists reach new milestone in vaccine development for neglected tropical disease

Julie Gatenby
University of York
The University of York-led study identified and characterised a new strain of Leishmania parasite that will form the basis of a new controlled human infection model for the disease which is transmitted by the bite of sand flies. The team then produced the parasite to the standards required for use in human clinical studies. The use of controlled human infection models has already proved invaluable in accelerating vaccine development for cholera, malaria, typhoid, influenza and other important infectious diseases. Such models are also being developed as part of the fight against COVID-19.

Ubiquigent and the University of York Awarded a Grant to Explore the Potential of Deubiquitylase (DUB) Enzyme Inhibitors . . .

Jason Mundin and Julie Gatenby
Ubiquigent Limited (Ubiquigent) and the Mottram Laboratory at the University of York today announced a collaboration to investigate the inhibition of deubiquitylase (DUB) enzymes expressed by the protozoan Leishmania mexicana for the treatment of leishmaniasis. The collaboration will be supported by a Global Challenges Research Fund grant, awarded by UK Research and Innovation, as part of ‘A Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’; a research consortium involving 13 universities across South America, Asia and the UK.

National Centre in Sri Lanka to use new technique for Vector-Borne disease control . . .

To help control vectors and strengthen Sri Lanka's defence against the diseases they carry, the IAEA in cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have completed a four-year technical cooperation project to help local authorities establish a national centre, as the first step towards more effective control of vector-borne diseases. The National Centre for Research, Training and Services in Medical and Molecular Entomology for Vector-Borne Disease Control will facilitate the development and use of the sterile insect technique (SIT) for more efficient suppression of mosquito vector populations.


Use of modelling to modify trachoma elimination strategies affected by the COVID-19 pandemic

Paul M Emerson, P J Hooper and Teshome Gebre
Transactions of The Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Models predict that the negative effects of delayed implementation in trachoma elimination programmes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will be minimal, except in high prevalence districts where progress may be reversed. During times of change we must stand by our principles of evidence-based decision-making, but also be willing to show flexibility. Slow progress to elimination in high prevalence districts was already a significant challenge to the global programme and mitigation of COVID-related delays with enhanced implementation provides an opportunity to simultaneously address an unprecedented challenge and a pre-existing one.

The COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel’s Statement on the Use of Ivermectin for the Treatment of COVID-19

National Institutes of Health
The COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel (the Panel) has determined that currently there are insufficient data to recommend either for or against the use of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19. Results from adequately powered, well-designed, and well-conducted clinical trials are needed to provide more specific, evidence-based guidance on the role of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19.


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

FREE ONLINE COURSE: Improving the Health of Women, Children and Adolescents: from Evidence to Action.
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine 

FREE ONLINE COURSE: Neglected tropical diseases in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic: impact and guidance
World Health Organization

Formal launch of "Ending the neglect to attain the Sustainable Development Goals: a road map for neglected tropical diseases 2021-2030" 
January 28, 2021
World Health Organization

World NTD Day 
January 30, 2021

Operational and Implementation Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) Research: A field perspective
January 30, 2021
Bernhard-Nocht-Institute for Tropical Medicine and Internation Teaching & Capacity Building

Power of Partnership: Defeating Onchocerciasis 
February 1, 2021 Webinar
The Task Force for Global Health

Noma-a disease that shouldn't exist anymore 
February 11, 2021 Webinar
International Society for Neglected Tropical Diseases

SAVE THE DATE: ISNTD d³ 2021 (Drug discovery, development & diagnostics for NTDs)
February 24-25, 2021 
International Society for Neglected Tropical Diseases

SAVE THE DATE: ISNTD Festival 2021
March 24-25, 2021
International Society for Neglected Tropical Diseases

Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting 2021 
June 20-26, 2021
The Commonwealth

The leadership needed to stimulate the battle against NTDs
TBD Webinar
Webinar of the World Health Organization