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WHO Issues Operational Guidance for the COVID-19 Context & 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.

WHO guidance

This document expands on the content of pillar 9 of the COVID-19 strategic preparedness and response plan, supersedes the earlier Operational guidance for maintaining essential health services during an outbreak, and complements the recently-released Community-based health care, including outreach and campaigns, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is intended for decision-makers and managers at the national and subnational levels.



Lymphatic filariasis

Notes from the Field: Impact of a Mass Drug Administration Campaign Using a Novel Three-Drug Regimen on Lymphatic Filariasis...

Marisa A. Hast et al.
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
During July 11–August 17, 2019, the American Samoa Department of Health (ASDOH) conducted a survey in collaboration with CDC and the Pacific Island Health Officers’ Association* to determine the effect of three-drug MDA on lymphatic filariasis prevalence in American Samoa. . . ASDOH visited 1,865 households and enrolled 2,081 persons in the survey. A total of 47 participants with a positive antigen test for lymphatic filariasis were identified. . . These results indicate that lymphatic filariasis antigenemia has declined since 2016 but remains above the 1% WHO threshold in all age groups, suggesting that lymphatic filariasis transmission in American Samoa is ongoing. To interrupt transmission in this setting, American Samoa should consider following WHO recommendations (5) and continue annual three-drug MDA with appropriate monitoring of progress toward elimination until targets are met. Lymphatic filariasis control activities should target high-prevalence sectors of the population, including adult men, to ensure that this population is adequately covered in the future.

Review of MDA registers for Lymphatic Filariasis: Findings, and potential uses in addressing the endgame elimination challenges

Dziedzom K. de Souza et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Lymphatic filariasis (LF) is endemic in Ghana, and the country has implemented the GPELF strategy since 2000 with significant progress made in the control of the disease. However, after several years of mass drug administration (MDA) implementation, there is persistent transmission in 17 of the 98 endemic districts in the country. Current approaches to surveillance are clearly unable to target untreated individuals and new strategies are required to address the endgame challenges to enhance LF elimination as a public health problem in endemic countries. Community registers are used during MDAs to enumerate community members, their age, gender, house numbers, and records of their participation in MDAs. These MDA registers represent an untapped opportunity to identify and characterize non-compliance and inform appropriate programmatic actions. In this study, we analyzed the data presented in the registers to assess the coverage and individuals’ compliance in MDA.

Significant improvement in quality of life following surgery for hydrocoele caused by lymphatic filariasis in Malawi...

Hannah Betts et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Lymphatic filariasis (LF) is a mosquito-borne parasitic infection that causes significant disabling and disfiguring clinical manifestations. Hydrocoele (scrotal swelling) is the most common clinical condition, which affects an estimated 25 million men globally. The recommended strategy is surgical intervention, yet little is known about the impact of hydrocoele on men's lives, and how it may change if they have access to surgery.

Mapping morbidity moves Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire toward NTD elimination

Act to End NTDs | West
Last year, USAID’s Act to End NTD | West program partner, the AIM Initiative, completed this type of evaluation in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire for health programs related to two diseases—LF and trachoma. These reports—situation analyses—are important tools for identifying barriers that prevent people like Mabinty from getting the health services and care they need. Ghana’s situation analysis focused on the health system’s capacity to manage LF-associated morbidity, prevent disability from the disease, and achieve disease elimination. The Côte d’Ivoire situation analysis did the same, for both LF and trachoma. Both reports included a desk review and quantitative data collection, but the largest component of each assessment came from interviews, conducted using the WHO MMDP Situation Analysis Tool.


Individuals living in an onchocerciasis focus and treated three-monthly with ivermectin develop fewer new onchocercal nodules...

Jérémy T. Campillo et al.
Parasites & Vectors
We analyzed data from a controlled randomized clinical trial of ivermectin conducted in the Mbam Valley (Cameroon) between 1994 and 1998 in a cohort of onchocerciasis infected individuals. The number of nodules that appeared between the start and the end of the clinical trial was analyzed, using ANOVA and multivariable Poisson regressions, between four treatment arms: 150 µg/kg annually, 800 µg/kg annually, 150 µg/kg 3-monthly, and 800 µg/kg 3-monthly. The mean number of nodules that appeared during the trial was reduced by 17.7% in subjects treated 3-monthly compared to those treated annually (regardless of the dose).

A second population-based cohort study in Cameroon confirms the temporal relationship between onchocerciasis and epilepsy

Cédric B Chesnais et al.
Open Forum Infectious Diseases
To confirm our earlier evidence of a temporal and dose-response relationship between onchocerciasis and epilepsy, we conducted another cohort study in a different setting in Cameroon. Individuals whose Onchocerca volvulus microfilarial density (Ov-MFD) was measured in 1992-1994 when they were children, were revisited in 2019 to determine if they acquired epilepsy. With reference to individuals with no microfilariae in 1992-1994, the relative risks of acquiring epilepsy were 0.96, 2.76, 3.67, and 11.87 in subjects with initial Ov-MFD of 1-7, 8-70, 71-200, and >200 microfilariae per skin snip, respectively. This study further demonstrates reproducibility in the Bradford Hill’s criteria for causality.


Beyond the barrier: Female Genital Schistosomiasis as a potential risk factor for HIV-1 acquisition

AS Sturt et al.
Acta Tropica
Highlights: [Female genital schistosomiasis, or] FGS is associated with prevalent HIV-1 infection. Characteristic FGS lesions may allow HIV-1 access to sub-epithelial target cells. Cervical egg granulomas bring together the target cells needed for HIV-1 infection. S. haematobium has been associated with altered systemic/genital cytokine levels. HIV-1 RNA concentrations may be altered in HIV-1 and schistosomiasis coinfection.

What’s age got to do with it? Age gaps in schistosomiasis control

Christina Faust
It is clear that treating school-aged children is crucial, but individuals of all ages can get infected with, and suffer from, schistosomiasis. The focus on this age group for treatment and monitoring, has led to systematic interventions in a limited age group and leads to health inequity in other parts of the population. The current WHO treatment guidelines focuses on treatment intervention strategies based on SAC prevalence only and thus recommends community-wide MDA, i.e. including adults, if the prevalence in SAC is over 50% and treatment of special at-risk adult groups only if the prevalence in SAC is over 10%. But there is no inclusion of preschool-aged children (PSAC) in regular treatment programs.

Policy implications of the potential use of a novel vaccine to prevent infection with Schistosoma mansoni...

Klodeta Kura et al.
In this paper, using stochastic individual-based models, we analyze whether the addition of a novel vaccine alone or in combination with drug treatment, is a more effective control strategy, in terms of achieving the WHO goals, as well as the time and costs to achieve these goals when compared to MDA alone. The key objective of our analyses is to help facilitate decision making for moving a promising candidate vaccine through the phase I, II and III trials in humans to a final product for use in resource poor settings.

Lessons Learned in Conducting Mass Drug Administration for Schistosomiasis Control and Measuring Coverage...

Sue Binder et al.
The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
The Schistosomiasis Consortium for Operational Research and Evaluation (SCORE) was created to conduct research that could inform programmatic decision-making related to schistosomiasis. SCORE included several large cluster randomized field studies involving mass drug administration (MDA) with praziquantel. The largest of these were studies of gaining or sustaining control of schistosomiasis, which were conducted in five African countries. To enhance relevance for routine practice, the MDA in these studies was coordinated by or closely aligned with national neglected tropical disease control programs. The study protocol set minimum targets of at least 90% for coverage among children enrolled in schools and 75% for all school-age children. Over the 4 years of intervention, an estimated 3.5 million treatments were administered to study communities. By year 4, the median village coverage was at or above targets in all studies except that in Mozambique. However, there was often a wide variation behind these summary statistics, and all studies had several villages with very low or high coverage. In studies where coverage was estimated by comparing the number of people treated with the number eligible for treatment, denominator estimation was often problematic. The SCORE experiences in conducting these studies provide lessons for future efforts that attempt to implement strong research designs in real-world contexts. They also have potential applicability to country MDA campaigns against schistosomiasis and other neglected tropical diseases, most of which are conducted with less logistical and financial support than was available for the SCORE study efforts.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Estimated need for anthelminthic medicines to control soil-transmitted helminthiases in school-aged children, 2020-2030.

Chiara Marocco, Fabrizio Tediosi, Mathieu Bangert, Denise Mupfasoni and Antonio Montresor
Infectious Diseases of Poverty
To estimate the need for anthelminthic medicines, we considered three different scenarios: (1) the control programmes continues to expand coverage and maintains the frequency of drug administration established at baseline; (2) the programmes continues to expand coverage but adapts the frequency of drug administration when the STH prevalence is reduced and (3) the STH programme becomes self-sustainable in some endemic countries.


Why disability inclusion is essential for trachoma elimination

KH Martin Kollmann, Sofia Abrahamsson and Tim Jesudason
Community Eye Health Journal
People with disabilities face a variety of physical and psychosocial barriers to accessing adequate services. In many trachoma-endemic areas, people with disabilities have insufficient access to clean water, toilets and hygiene education, all of which are needed to reduce the risk of infection with, and transmission of, trachoma. People with disabilities may experience challenges to take part in mass drug administration (MDA) or surgical outreach campaigns without effective support. The systematic inclusion of people with disabilities and other marginalised groups into trachoma and general eye health programmes is critical to overcome these barriers; however, it will require new thinking and approaches. Programmes must collect data that can be disaggregated by disability during baseline and impact surveys in order to identify the magnitude and pattern of disabilities, inform approaches and identify appropriate partnerships. All of these are needed in order to plan, implement and monitor tailored interventions


Maintaining essential health services: operational guidance for the COVID-19 context

World Health Organization
Countries around the world are facing the challenge of increased demand for care of people with COVID-19, compounded by fear, misinformation and limitations on movement that disrupt the delivery of health care for all conditions. Maintaining essential health services: operational guidance for the COVID-19 context recommends practical actions that countries can take at national, subregional and local levels to reorganize and safely maintain access to high-quality, essential health services in the pandemic context. It also outlines sample indicators for monitoring essential health services, and describes considerations on when to stop and restart services as COVID-19 transmission recedes and surges. This document expands on the content of pillar 9 of the COVID-19 strategic preparedness and response plan, supersedes the earlier Operational guidance for maintaining essential health services during an outbreak, and complements the recently-released Community-based health care, including outreach and campaigns, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is intended for decision-makers and managers at the national and subnational levels.

Integrating a gender, equity and human rights focus into national programming on preventive chemotherapy. . .

Chowdhury S, Dixon R, Shuaibu J, et al.
The burden of NTDs is unequally distributed within Nigeria; increased vulnerability and exposure often mean that the poorest individuals and households are the most affected, particularly in rural settings. Although the distribution of preventive medicines through mass distribution mechanisms is free; social, cultural and economic factors interact to impact the effectiveness and equity of medicine coverage. Using qualitative methods with state and district health providers, community drug distributors (CDDs) and community members to explore their perceptions of the barriers and facilitators to effective treatment coverage and analysed these in terms of accessibility, availability, acceptability and contact coverage. These methods were applied in areas where there were particular challenges to the effective treatment coverage of mass distribution of medicines (based on programmatic treatment data), to support programme decision makers in improving equity in access to mass administration of medicines.

Regional Action Framework for Control and Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases in the Western Pacific

World Health Organization
In 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Committee for the Western Pacific endorsed the Regional Action Plan for Neglected Tropical Diseases in the Western Pacific Region (2012–2016), setting disease-specific elimination and control goals in the Region. Since then, the Region has seen remarkable progress, primarily through preventive chemotherapy or mass drug administration. More than 40 million people in the Region have been reached with preventive chemotherapy for at least one NTD every year. Eleven more countries and areas in the Region have achieved elimination of lymphatic filariasis and/or trachoma as a public health problem. With these achievements, the NTD landscape and programmatic needs in the Region are changing. To address these changes, I am pleased to present the Regional Action Framework for Control and Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases in the Western Pacific, which was endorsed by the Regional Committee in 2018. For diseases with proven elimination strategies and tools, a focused approach continues to accelerate their elimination. For control and elimination of many other diseases, however, efforts are needed to gradually shift from dependence on preventive chemotherapy to a whole-of-system approach with multisectoral interventions and service delivery. This includes enhancing the water supply and sanitation coverage, delivering veterinary public health and vector-control interventions, and increasing access to vaccines and antisera for all vulnerable and affected populations in the Region.

Multisectoral Approach to the Prevention and Control of Vector-Borne Diseases

World Health Organization
The emergence, transmission and distribution of vector-borne diseases (VBDs) are determined by the pathogens, the vectors, the environment, the socioeconomics and the health system. These factors exceed the capacity of ministries of health and the health sector and require the involvement of many other sectors and stakeholders. Consequently, collaboration among sectors is essential to reach the “triple billion” goals. The synergy created by multisectoral approaches (MSAs) contributes to advancement of several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) simultaneously. This document was prepared to support Member States and other relevant actors in the fight against VBDs through the use of concerted, facilitating, inclusive, participatory and sustainable MSAs. The document presents a conceptual framework covering the essential elements of successful multisectoral collaborations, which is based on systematic reviews of evidence from programmes for the prevention and control of VBDs. A coordination pathway and a sectoral pathway are described, and guidance is provided for a non-exhaustive list of sectors. Case studies provide real-life situations. Although the guidance document is based on lessons learnt from practices in countries, the conceptual framework remains theoretical. There is no single “silver bullet”. Users of the guidance document should adjust and adapt the recommendations to their context to ensure a multisectoral strategy that best responds to local needs.

Universal access to essential health information: accelerating progress towards universal health coverage and other SDG...

Royston G, Pakenham-Walsh N and Zielinski C
BMJ Global Health
We highlight the growing evidence of the impact of wider access to practical and actionable information on health for the public, carers and frontline health workers and provide illustrative, evidence-based, examples of how increasing access to essential health information can accelerate the achievement of [universal health coverage, or] UHC and other health targets of the [Sustainable Development Goals, or] SDGs. The paper ends with an assessment of reasons why universal access to essential health information has not yet been achieved, and an associated call to action to key stakeholders-such as governments, multilaterals, funding bodies, policy-makers, health professionals and knowledge intermediaries-to explicitly recognise the foundational role of universal access to essential health information for achieving UHC and the rest of the health SDGs, to include it in the relevant SDG target and associated monitoring indicators, and to incorporate actions in their own policies and programmes to promote and enable this access.

Conducting operational research in humanitarian settings: is there a shared path for humanitarians, national public health...

Enrica Leresche et al.
Conflict and Health
We find that when they collaborate, academics, humanitarian actors and health authorities deploy their respective complementarities to build a more comprehensive approach. Barriers such as the lack of uptake of research results or weak links to the existing literature were overcome by giving space to define research questions and develop a longer-term collaboration involving individual and institutional learning. There is the need ahead of time to create balanced decision-making mechanisms, allow for relative financial autonomy, and define organizational responsibilities. Ultimately, mutual respect, trust and the recognition of each other’s expertise formed the basis of an initiative that served to better understand populations affected by conflict and meet their needs.


Ambassador's Message: My Journey Continues

Yohei Sasakawa
WHO Goodwill Ambassador's Newsletter
What has left a lasting impression on me are my encounters with persons affected by leprosy who have found the strength to overcome the challenges they face. All over the world I have met individuals existing in unimaginably desperate circumstances, abandoned by their families and living on their own for many years. For some, there has been no other recourse but to begging to survive. But in India, Indonesia, Brazil, Ethiopia and many other countries, persons affected by leprosy are making their voices heard and becoming increasingly organized. What they have to say carries more weight and is more persuasive than if I were to make 1,000 speeches. The role they have to play in advancing our efforts against the disease is particularly important.

Snakebites are ‘neglected’ health crisis in Africa

Thomas Nicolon
National Geographic
Globally, as many as 138,000 people succumb to snakebites each year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and the vast majority of those deaths occur in developing nations. Another 400,000 people survive with amputated limbs and other permanent disabilities. In fact, snakebites claim more lives than the combined total of all other “neglected tropical diseases” listed by the WHO—rabies, dengue fever, leprosy, trachoma, among others that disproportionately affect the world’s poorest people and receive the least funding and research investment.

Physics of parasites

Using a new approach, scientists are applying the techniques of physics to investigate the relationships between parasites and their hosts. The programme is led by the Würzburg cell biologist Markus Engstler. . . the infection process is a two-way street. If an uninfected tsetse fly bites an already infected animal, the parasites will be taken up with the bloodmeal. They will then begin a new life cycle lasting several weeks in a completely different environment: the digestive tract of the blood-sucking insect. There the trypanosomes are exposed to extreme pressure and the movements of the intestine. They have to swim through extremely complex and cramped labyrinths within the fly’s tissues to finally reach the salivary gland again. Every single change in the microenvironment is mirrored by an adaptation in the shape of the parasites.

Impact of common skin diseases on children in rural Cote d'ivoire with leprosy and buruli ulcer co-endemicity...

Rie Roselyne Yotsu et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases [uncorrected proof]
Skin-related neglected tropical diseases (skin NTDs) occur against a background of a very high prevalence of common skin diseases in sub-Saharan Africa. In this study, we examined the knowledge, attitude and practices (KAP) and the impact of common skin diseases in children living in a leprosy and Buruli ulcer (BU) co-endemic district in a west African country of Côte d’Ivoire, in order to help inform disease control efforts for skin NTDs.

Guinea Worm Wrap-Up #268

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The Carter Center
Chad’s Guinea Worm Eradication Program has reported a provisional total of 551 dogs with Guinea worm infections in January-April 2020, compared to 722 infected dogs reported in the same period of 2019, making for a provisional year-to-date reduction of 24%. After two consecutive years without any reported human cases of Guinea worm disease, Ethiopia’s Dracunculiasis Eradication Program has reported a total of seven suspect cases in Duli, Metaget Dipach, and Wadmaro villages of Gog district in Gambella Region from April 2-23, 2020. After detecting no human cases during 2016-2019, Mali’s Guinea Worm Eradication Program has reported one confirmed case of Guinea worm disease in a human in 2020. During the four years without any human cases, Mali reported 11 infected dogs in 2016, 9 dogs and 1 cat in 2017, 18 dogs and 2 cats in 2018, and 8 dogs and 1 cat in 2019 .On April 14, 2020, Angolan health authorities informed the World Health Organization (WHO) that they had discovered a suspect case of Guinea worm disease on March 29, 2020. The worm specimen was preserved from a 15-year-old boy in the village of Ofenda in Namacunde municipality of Cunene Province.

World Field Epidemiology Day

We have exciting news to share: In 2021, the world will celebrate its very first World Field Epidemiology Day, and we are counting on you to make it a success. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are reminded more than ever before of the invaluable skills that field epidemiologists bring to preventing, detecting and investigating outbreaks. In recognition, TEPHINET, the global network of Field Epidemiology Training Programs (FETPs), will be leading the development of a globally coordinated campaign to raise awareness of field epidemiology through the launch and promotion of World Field Epidemiology Day. This event is much bigger than our own network of FETPs and regional FETP networks. We will call upon on the broader universe of ALL stakeholders and partners worldwide who are engaged with field epidemiology to participate—all public health agencies, university departments, NGOs, ministries of health, and others whose work relies on field epidemiologists are called upon to engage in this campaign (as are the individuals working as field epidemiologists and those who support them!).


Why we need to globalize global health

Simon Bland
Sri Lanka Guardian
We must continue to challenge the traditional framework of global health and development. We have so much to learn from the front lines in lower-income countries that have made significant steps in the fight against infectious diseases in recent years. The reality is that diseases are tackled, controlled, eliminated and eradicated at the local level. This is demonstrated by the progress made in ridding the world of polio and malaria, mitigating the impact of deadly and debilitating Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), and fighting Ebola. The experiences, insights and tools used in these programs are among the most crucial to fight SARS-Cov2.

COVID-19 in Africa: no room for complacency

The Lancet
Despite over 100 000 confirmed cases and infections in every country, the passage of COVID-19 through the African continent remains somewhat enigmatic. High numbers of deaths were expected in the region due to fragile health systems, lack of access to preventive measures, barriers to testing, and potentially vulnerable populations. But, according to WHO, Africa is the least affected region globally, with 1·5% of the world's reported COVID-19 cases and 0·1% of the world's deaths. Although comparisons are inaccurate, mortality rates have been lower compared with outbreaks of similar size elsewhere. Many hypotheses have been suggested for this paradox, including sensitivity of the virus to ambient temperature, Africa's comparatively young population, lower rates of obesity, and familiarity with infectious disease outbreaks. Low levels of testing might be artificially lowering apparent infection rates. The situation in the continent is highly heterogeneous and progress varies considerably.

Evidence for Limited Early Spread of COVID-19 Within the United States, January–February 2020

CDC COVID-19 Response Team et al.
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
Four separate lines of evidence (syndromic surveillance, virus surveillance, phylogenetic analysis, and retrospectively identified cases) suggest that limited U.S. community transmission likely began in late January or early February 2020, after a single importation from China, followed by multiple importations from Europe. Until late February, COVID-19 incidence was too low to be detected by emergency department syndromic surveillance for COVID-19–like illness.

A RT-PCR assay for the detection of coronaviruses from four genera

Leshan Xiu et al.
Journal of Clinical Virology
Highlights: We developed a diagnostic to detect all CoVs from the four main genera. This assay can detect and identify all previously recognized CoVs and any future related CoVs that may emerge. The assay was highly specific and sensitive in detecting CoVs, and performed well on different sample types.

The Coronavirus Spurs Drug Repurposing Innovation

Joshua Cohen
Thus far, for Covid-19 the three most promising drugs have been a repurposing of the investigational antiviral remdesivir, and off-label uses of the HIV combination product lopinavir/ritonavir and the anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine. Remdesivir is the furthest along, as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted it emergency use authorization. It is still, however, an investigational drug and not currently approved for any indication in the U.S. Last month, remdesivir was approved in Japan for critically ill Covid-19 patients. [NOTE: This article mentions the potential efficacy of ivermectin against COVID-19. The Mectizan Expert Committee previously issued a statement cautioning against this treatment.]

Merck leaps into Covid-19 vaccine race, aiming to test two different candidates this year

Matthew Herper
Merck, one of the largest vaccine makers in the world, is entering the Covid-19 arena with an announcement on Tuesday it is developing two different vaccines for Covid-19 and is also licensing an oral drug that might treat the virus. Merck is buying Vienna-based Themis, which is developing an experimental Covid-19 vaccine based on a measles vaccine that could begin human studies soon. It is also partnering with the nonprofit IAVI on the development of a vaccine related to Merck’s existing Ebola vaccine that could enter human studies later this year. And it is licensing an experimental drug from a small company called Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.

Opinion: Lessons of Smallpox eradication and COVID-19

Bill Foege
Atlanta Journal Constitution
It is ironic that we question current leadership, since May 8 marked 40 years since the World Health Organization declared the world free of smallpox, an effort that involved U.S. leadership. We celebrated that achievement with a webinar, hosted by WHO, with a few of the surviving veterans of that campaign, discussing what smallpox eradication lessons could be of use to coronavirus workers. Smallpox ranks with the most repugnant afflictions, and it terrified people of all ranks of life for centuries. WHO has estimated that smallpox killed 300 million people in the 20th century alone. Voltaire, himself a victim, once estimated that 60% of children born in France would develop the disease, with one-third dying, another third pockmarked for life and a third recovering without pockmarks. The disease decimated Native American populations, and even President Abraham Lincoln was in the early stage of smallpox as he delivered his Gettysburg Address.

VIDEO: Learning and Adapting during COVID-19: How Health Systems Can Respond to Disruptions

RTI International
Thank you to those who joined us for the second webinar in our series, Learning and Adapting during COVID-19. More than 270 participants engaged with our esteemed panel about How Health Systems Can Respond to COVID-19 Disruptions. Highlights included: Suneeta Krishnan, Deputy Director for Measurement, Learning and Evaluation at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s India Country Office, shared insights on how to uphold accountability and quality in research during this unprecedented time when information generation is of utmost importance. Dr. Margaret E. Kruk, Professor of Health Systems at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, spoke about resilience as a key component of quality health systems and shared lessons we can draw from the COVID-19 crisis to enact structural reforms. Kelly Saldaña, Director of the Office of Health Systems for USAID’s Bureau for Global Health, spoke about the impact of COVID-19 on health systems in the countries USAID supports, and how USAID is putting mitigation measures in place to absorb long-term shocks.


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

Where can a 50-year career in schistosomiasis take you geographically and scientifically?
June 4, ISNTD Connect
In this challenging time where countless work places, universities, schools and public places have temporarily closed their doors and everything’s a bit unknown, we hope that continuing professional conversations online can provide a practical way to further knowledge-sharing, close some of the gaps left where ongoing research has been paused, and provide mutual support. ISNTD Connect is a forum and series of short meetings online, where researchers and professionals in the fields of tropical diseases and public health are able to present and discuss ongoing research and topics. These online meetings are open to all and free, and are scheduled to last about 30-60 minutes.

Mitigation and recovery from COVID-19-associated delays: a research agenda for NTD programmes
June 5, Webinar
The COVID-19 pandemic has seriously disrupted many national programmes seeking to control, eliminate and eradicate neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Disruption has occurred as the combined result of multiple forces, including (a) WHO advice to NTD programmes to postpone  community-based surveys, active case-finding activities and mass treatment campaigns until further notice; (b) requisitions of and holds on human and financial resources previously allocated to NTDs; (c) shifts in local health system priorities; (d) health worker absence due to illness, quarantine or care-giving activities; and (e) public health measures to limit SARS-CoV-2 transmission, such as movement restrictions, curfews and suspension of public transport.

Finding Opportunity in Crisis: How to Use COVID-19 to Build Better UHC Systems in Africa
June 5, Webinar
This webinar will focus on how the COVID-19 pandemic underscores a pressing need to implement UHC. Speakers will highlight how multi-sectoral collaboration is a pathway to achieving resilient, sustainable, and quality UHC in Africa by 2030. 

6th World One Health Congress - POSTPONED
June 14-18, 2020, Edinburgh, Scotland
The 6th World One Health Congress is the largest One Health event of the year, where experts and researchers from around the world present their latest scientific research.

Neglected Tropical Diseases and COVID-19: Why we need the new NTD Roadmap more than ever
June 17, 2020, Webinar
17 July 2020 was chosen to virtually launch the new road map for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Due to COVID-19, this launch has now been postponed to the end of this year. Instead, and on this date WHO is organizing a webinar to discuss the new NTD road map and look at how global NTD programmes have been impacted by the pandemic. This webinar will also discuss the new road map in a changing NTD landscape and how can we work with countries to adjust to the new normal.

June 22-27, 2020, Kigali, Rwanda
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is a pivotal agenda-setting and decision-making space for the diverse community of 53 Commonwealth countries. With varying economic statuses and vast oceans between them, our leaders meet every two years to explore how they can pool their resources and innovations to transform joint challenges into exciting opportunities. In June 2020, Rwanda will host the meeting. Connected by similar traditions, language, governance and legal structures, presidents, prime ministers and monarchs, from Africa, the Caribbean and Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific, will travel to Kigali to reaffirm their common values and agree actions and policies to improve the lives of all their citizens.

Kigali Summit on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases - POSTPONED
June 25 2020, Kigali, Rwanda
Based on the Commonwealth 2018-2023 Malaria Commitment, the London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), a renewed World Health Organization (WHO) roadmap on NTDs and thanks to the leadership of President Kagame and Heads of Government from many countries, there is an opportunity to focus global attention and accelerate action towards ending these preventable and treatable diseases at the time of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2020 in Kigali, Rwanda.

NTD NGO Network Annual Meeting - VIRTUAL
September 8-10, 2020, Kathmandu, Nepal
2020 will be an important year: celebrating the success and embracing the new NTD Roadmap from the World Health Organization. Please get your stories ready and join the celebration!

75th Session of the UN General Assembly 
September 15-30, 2020, New York, NY
All 193 Member States of the Organization are represented in the General Assembly - one of the six main organs of the UN - to discuss and work together on a wide array of international issues covered by the Charter of the United Nations, such as development, peace and security, international law, etc. Every year in September, all the Members meet in this unique forum at Headquarters in New York for the General Assembly session.

September 29 - October 1, 2020, Lomé, Togo
More details to follow.

11th IAPB General Assembly - POSTPONED
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.

World Health Summit 
October 25-27, 2020, Berlin, Germany
The World Health Summit is one of the world’s leading strategic forums for global health. Held annually in Berlin, it brings together leaders from politics, science and medicine, the private sector, and civil society to set the agenda for a healthier future. 300 speakers and 2,500 participants from 100 countries take part.

6th World One Health Congress 
October 30 - November 3, 2020, Edinburgh, Scotland
The 6th World One Health Congress is the largest One Health event of the year, where experts and researchers from around the world present their latest scientific research.