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WHO Launches Webinar Series Leading Up to Road Map Launch & 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.

Using Art to Halt the Spread of Coronavirus in DRC (The Carter Center)

"Manu Dibango." A group of young artists in Kinshasa worked together to paint a mural of Manu Dibango, a famous Cameroonian musician who died from COVID-19.

THE CARTER CENTER

Lymphatic filariasis

Risk factors associated with failing pre-transmission assessment surveys (pre-TAS) in lymphatic filariasis elimination programs

Clara R. Burgert-Brucker et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
For this analysis, we analyzed data from routine USAID and WHO reports from Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Haiti, Indonesia, Mali, Nepal, Niger, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Uganda. In a model that included multiple variables, high baseline prevalence and lower elevation were significant. In models comparing only one variable to the outcome, the following were statistically significantly associated with failure: higher baseline prevalence at or above 5% or 10%, use of the FTS, primary vector of Culex, treatment with diethylcarbamazine-albendazole, lower elevation, higher population density, higher Enhanced Vegetation Index, higher annual rainfall, and six or more rounds of mass drug administration. These results can help national programs plan MDA more effectively, e.g., by focusing resources on areas with higher baseline prevalence and/or lower elevation.

Standardisation of lymphatic filariasis microfilaraemia prevalence estimates based on different diagnostic methods. . .

Natalie V. S. Vinkeles Melchers, Luc E. Coffeng, Sake J. de Vlas and Wilma A. Stolk
Parasites & Vectors
Lymphatic filariasis (LF) infection is generally diagnosed through parasitological identification of microfilariae (mf) in the blood. Although historically the most commonly used technique for counting mf is the thick blood smear based on 20 µl blood (TBS20), various other techniques and blood volumes have been applied. It is therefore a challenge to compare mf prevalence estimates from different LF-survey data. Our objective was to standardise microfilaraemia (mf) prevalence estimates to TBS20 as the reference diagnostic technique.

Onchocerciasis

Integrating Multiple Biomarkers to Increase Sensitivity for the Detection of Onchocerca volvulus Infection

Sasisekhar Bennuru et al.
The Journal of Infectious Diseases
Serological assessments for human onchocerciasis are based on IgG4 reactivity against the OV-16 antigen, with sensitivities of 60-80%. We have previously identified 7 novel proteins that could improve serodiagnosis. IgG4 responses to these 7 proteins were assessed by luciferase immunoprecipitation (LIPS) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent (ELISA) immunoassays. . . The combined use of rOVOC3261 with OV-16 improved serologic assessment of O. volvulus infection, a current unmet need toward the goal of elimination of transmission of O. volvulus.

In Silico Design and Validation of OvMANE1, a Chimeric Antigen for Human Onchocerciasis Diagnosis

Cabirou Mounchili Shintouo et al.
Pathogens
The public health goal of onchocerciasis in Africa has advanced from control to elimination. In this light, accurate diagnosis is necessary to determine treatment endpoints and confirm elimination, as well as to conduct surveillance for the identification of any possible recrudescence of the disease. Currently, the monitoring of onchocerciasis elimination relies on the Ov-16 test. However, this test is unable to discriminate between past and active infections. Furthermore, about 15–25% of infected persons are reported to be negative for the Ov-16 test, giving a misleading sense of security to false-negative individuals who might continue to serve as reservoirs for infections. Therefore, we opted to design and validate a more sensitive and specific chimeric antigen (OvMANE1) for onchocerciasis diagnosis, using previously reported immunodominant peptides of O. volvulus, the parasite responsible for the disease.

Socioeconomic impacts of elimination of onchocerciasis in Abu-Hamed focus, northern Sudan: lessons after elimination

Ayman Ahmed et al.
BMC Research Notes
A cross-sectional study was implemented using a well-established questionnaire to investigate the socio-economic impacts of Onchocerciasis elimination in Abu-Hamed, River Nile State, Sudan in 2015; 512 participants in ten affected communities were interviewed. Our findings revealed that these communities are recovering from the social and economic burden of the diseases.

Schistosomiasis

Researchers use aquaculture to tackle snail fever

James Ives
News Medical
Humans are typically infected through parasite-hosting snails and the majority of people infected tend to be children or the elderly. A research team is now investigating how the snails - and ultimately the spread of infection - can be controlled by boosting the populations of native snail predators using aquaculture. By considering the role of aquaculture in producing these predators, the team will take a "one health" approach to solving both a public health problem and providing an economic and food security solution at the same time.

A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis to assess the association between Urogenital Schistosomiasis and HIV/AIDS Infection

Ludoviko Zirimenya, Fatima Mahmud-Ajeigbe, Ruth McQuillan and You Li
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Urogenital schistosomiasis and HIV/AIDS infections are widespread in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) leading to substantial morbidity and mortality. The co-occurrence of both diseases has led to the possible hypothesis that urogenital schistosomiasis leads to increased risk of acquiring HIV infection. However, the available evidence concerning this association is inconsistent. The aim of this study was to systematically review and quantitatively synthesize studies that investigated the association between urogenital schistosomiasis and HIV/AIDS infection.

Parallelized Impedance‐Based Platform for Continuous Dose‐Response Characterization of Antischistosomal Drugs

Paolo S. Ravaynia et al.
Advanced Biosystems
Screening of antischistosomal compounds is hampered by the low throughput and potential subjectivity of the visual evaluation of the parasite phenotypes, which affects the current drug assays. Here, an impedance‐based platform, capable of assessing the viability of Schistosoma mansoni schistosomula exposed to drugs, is presented.

More time to comment on draft Research Agenda

Infectious Diseases Data Observatory (IDDO)
IDDO has extended the feedback period on its draft Research Agenda on schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiases (STHs) until July 17. Comments are welcome from the wider research community to help form the direction of research work using IDDO’s schistosomiasis and STHs data platform.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

MASSIVE OPEN ONLINE COURSE: Soil-transmitted Helminthiases: Prevention, Treatment, and Control - 2019

Pan American Health Organization
The purpose of this course is to develop knowledge among a greater number of health professionals and health workers about the problem of soil-transmitted helminthiases (STH), enabling them to offer better care and participate in disease control. Another goal of the course is to strengthen the capacities of those responsible for STH control programs with a view to implementing national and subnational interventions. This course is based on PAHO/WHO standards for the prevention, treatment, and control of soil-transmitted helminthiases. Its contents are based on the available scientific evidence. [Also available in Spanish.]

Muddy Results for MS Hookworm Therapy

Judy George
Medpage Today
The study stemmed from the hygiene hypothesis, a theory that postulates that exposure to certain parasitic infections may help protect against autoimmune or inflammatory diseases. In animal models of MS, helminth treatment appeared to be protective, noted Daniel Ontaneda, MD, PhD, and Jeffrey Cohen, MD, both of the Cleveland Clinic's Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis, in an accompanying editorial. . . On the primary endpoint -- the cumulative number of new or enlarging T2 lesions or newly enhancing lesions over 4 to 9 months post-infection -- hookworm treatment showed no significant benefit (154 vs 164 lesions).

Trachoma

Frequency of Mass Azithromycin Distribution for Ocular Chlamydia in a Trachoma Endemic Region of Ethiopia. . .

Thomas M. Lietman et al.
American Journal of Ophthalmology
Annual mass azithromycin distribution significantly reduces the prevalence of ocular Chlamydia trachomatis, the causative organism of trachoma. However, in some areas a decade or more of treatment has not controlled infection. Here, we compared multiple treatment arms from a community-randomized trial to evaluate whether increasing frequency of azithromycin distribution decreases prevalence in the short term.

Cross-cutting

Why We Need To The NTD 2030 Road Map Now, More Than Ever

Mwelecele Ntuli Malecela
Africa.com
We understand that there will be fewer resources in the future – and much more work to do. This means that we, as a community, cannot isolate ourselves – even as we respect physical distancing. Our work to overcome NTDs must necessarily be carried out in conjunction with the many other programmes – malaria, TB, immunization, the whole gamut of public health interventions – all of which face a radically changed public health landscape. Failure to collaborate and pool-in resources and efforts will jeopardize the progress we have made over the past decade.

Neglected tropical diseases: leveraging the new NTD road map to build back from COVID-19 disruptions

World Health Organization
The slow recovery from COVID-19 is revealing the extent to which global public health programmes have been disrupted. To build back in the context of a drastically changed landscape, countries, the global health community and partners will have to adapt to a new normal. This message came out clearly during a two-hour virtual discussion on A road map for recovery: why we need the WHO 2030 road map now, more than ever, organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and COVID-19. [Webinar recording available in article sidebar]

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 17 June 2020

World Health Organization
Today, I want to touch on Neglected Tropical Diseases, an issue I care deeply about. NTDs are a group of 20 diseases including elephantiasis, sleeping sickness, leprosy, trachoma and intestinal worms that collectively wreak havoc on the poorest and most marginalized communities. These diseases disfigure, disable and can kill, and they strike hardest in places of poverty and in remote areas where access to quality health services is extremely limited. WHO and partners have developed a new roadmap, which moves away from single disease programmes to integrated approaches to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of neglected tropical diseases, as part of an overall movement toward universal health coverage. The NTD roadmap puts greater ownership on national and local governments to drive action. Like with COVID-19, it calls for greater collaboration between governments, academia, civil society and the private sector in order to boost innovation and access to health technologies. I have seen first hand the courage of people who are living with NTDS, which is why I call on countries not to forget about the most vulnerable.

NTD Diagnostics for Disease Elimination: A Review

Emma Michelle Taylor
Diagnostics
Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) marked out for disease elimination provide a lens through which to explore the changing status of diagnosis in global health. This paper reports on the findings of a scoping review, which set out to explore the main debates around diagnosis for the elimination of NTDs, including the multiple roles diagnostic technologies are being ascribed and the ideal characteristics of tests. It also attempts to summarise the state of diagnosis for three NTDs with elimination goals. The review places special emphasis on point-of-care testing in acknowledgement of the remote and underserved areas where NTDs proliferate.

Other

Chagas Disease Threat: Better Diagnostics Sought, U.S. Department of Defense Gets Involved

Benziga
Per IVD market research firm Kalorama Information there is an opportunity for test makers and investors in Chagas disease diagnostics. Chagas is a particularly underpublicized and harmful disease and current tests are inadequate to catch all cases. Recently the Defense Department was concerned enough to embark on a study after concerns about a principally Latin American disease reaching U.S. Army bases in the Southwest. In Kalorama information's Emerging Infectious Testing report, Chagas is identified as one of the company's Top Emerging Infectious Disease threats.

GPZL’s COVID-19 Working Groups: June 2020 Update

Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy
The COVID-19 pandemic has strongly impacted leprosy control and prevention, and in response, GPZL has established three working groups to address the leprosy community’s key challenges during the global health crisis, and spearhead emergency response.

Ethiopians Fight Guinea Worm Disease on All Fronts

The Carter Center
From community engagement to water treatment and filtering to dog tethering, a cluster of villages in remote western Ethiopia is applying creative strategies to protect humans and animals from Guinea worm disease, and their diligence is paying off. On a cloudy morning, 15 young men gather under a canopy at the Carter Center’s Guinea worm compound in Gog. They are the captains of teams responsible for treating water sources with Abate®, a mild chemical donated by BASF that kills Guinea worm larvae. The captains meet regularly to plan and coordinate their work, ensuring every pond and well around the villages of Ablen, Wichini, and Atheti is treated every 28 days to help interrupt the worm’s life cycle.

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: 2020 Centennial Travel Award in Basic Science Tropical Disease Research

American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene
ASTMH is seeking applications from full-time post-doctoral fellows (PhD, MD or DVM degrees or the equivalent) with positions at U.S. or Canadian institutions for an opportunity focused on benefiting underserved populations around the world where the burden of disease is high. This Centennial award provides physicians or scientists with $25,000 for field experience in combination with laboratory studies of parasitic, bacterial or viral infectious diseases in low/low-middle income countries. The Centennial Travel Award was created in 2003 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ASTMH.

COVID-19

Health officials worry COVID-19 pandemic could stall progress against neglected tropical diseases

Jaqueline Howard
CNN Philippines
Health officials from various nations met in a World Health Organization webinar on Wednesday to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on fights against neglected tropical disease around the world. Global experts have long warned that the coronavirus pandemic could influence how nations are impacted by and responding to other communicable diseases — including neglected tropical diseases, a diverse group of illnesses that prevail in tropical and subtropical conditions across 149 countries. "In Rwanda, like many other countries in the world, we are fighting one enemy which is Covid-19 but other health essential programs may be also important to watch and follow so that we don't have double damage in this context," Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana, director general of Rwanda Biomedical Centre, said during Wednesday's webinar.

FDA COVID-19 Update

Contract Pharma
The FDA has taken the following actions as of June 18 in the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic: The FDA participated in the International Society for Neglected Tropical Diseases virtual meeting to discuss how the CURE ID app can be used to capture case reports regarding treatments and advance research into neglected tropical disease and COVID-19. Visit the FDA's new web section Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Emergency Use Authorizations for Medical Devices. This resource provides information on the Emergency Use Authorizations for COVID-19 tests and other medical devices that the FDA has issued related to COVID-19 on individual web pages to help make it easier for the public to access this information. Testing updates: To date, FDA has authorized 141 tests under EUAs; these include 120 molecular tests, 20 antibody tests, and 1 antigen test.

Caution urged following dexamethasone trial: WHO briefing

Joe Myers
World Economic Forum
The WHO welcomes initial promising results from the UK RECOVERY trial into the use of dexamethasone in treating COVID-19, said Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. But, the organization also urged caution in use of the drug. . . Dr Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO's Health Emergencies Programme, also welcomed the results. "It's great news," he said. "But, it's part of the answer on the clinical side." He also cautioned that it's vital the drug is only used under medical supervision and not as a preventative measure. "It is not a treatment for the virus itself," he explained. It's important its use is reserved for severely ill patients.

Potential Indirect Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Use of Emergency Departments for Acute Life-Threatening Conditions. . .

Samantha J. Lange et al.
Morbidty and Mortality Weekly Report
National syndromic surveillance data suggest a decline in emergency department (ED) visits during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the 10 weeks following declaration of the COVID-19 national emergency, ED visits declined 23% for heart attack, 20% for stroke, and 10% for hyperglycemic crisis. Persons experiencing chest pain, loss of motor function, altered mental status, or other life-threatening issues should seek immediate emergency care, regardless of the pandemic. Communication from public health and health care professionals should reinforce the importance of timely care for acute health conditions and assure the public that EDs are implementing infection prevention and control guidelines to ensure the safety of patients and health care personnel.

Using Art to Halt the Spread of Coronavirus in DRC

The Carter Center
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, young artists with ties to The Carter Center are giving their time and talent to create paintings and songs that encourage people in their communities to prevent the spread of COVID-19. . . "In some areas of Kinshasa and DRC, people don’t believe COVID-19 is a real disease," said Elysée Sindayigaya, manager of the Carter Center’s Human Rights House in the DRC, which provides support to partner Youth Houses where training and art projects take place. "For many of them, it is a Western issue. Having these talented young artists raising awareness in their community can help change opinions and encourage people to adopt good behavior to prevent it."

PODCAST: The Challenges Of Fighting COVID-19 In Developing Countries

WABE
Did You Wash Your Hands?
Dr. Carl Reddy, from the Task Force for Global Health, shares some of the challenges developing countries face when it comes to responding to the pandemic and discusses the COVID-19 outlook for the rest of the world.

UPCOMING EVENTS

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

Fueling the NTD Roadmap: How Unprecedented Capital, Attention, and Timelines are Transforming Biopharma R&D
June 23, 2020, 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.

The Coronavirus Pandemic: What's Next
June 23, 2020, Facebook Live Q&A
The coronavirus pandemic. More than 8 million cases globally and 440,000 deaths worldwide. More than 2.1 million U.S. cases and over 116,000 deaths. As society starts to reopen with the virus surging in some states, as summer gets under way in parts of the globe, as economies falter and stabilize, as we await vaccines and treatments, what can we expect next and how can we prepare and respond?  Join Harvard Chan epidemiologist Caroline Buckee and The World’s Elana Gordon for this Facebook Live Q&A. Email your questions for Dr. Buckee to theforum@hsph.harvard.edu or post them to Facebook @ForumHSPH or @pritheworld.

Power the Youth and Power the Partnership: End the Neglected 
June 25, 2020, Webinar
On 25 June 2020, Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) will host a high-level, virtual event called Power the Partnership: End the Neglect. This will be preceded by a Power the Youth session hosted by Youth Combating NTDs. Please join us for these highly engaging events that we know you will find inspiring and will strengthen your resolve in fighting these diseases of poverty.

"Café Connect": ISNTD Connect participants take the floor 
June 25, 2020, 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.

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.

Developing a Career in One Health: Stories from the Next Generation
June 29 2020, Webinar
The One Health approach continues to generate interest and excitement among students and early career professionals from diverse disciplines, especially now in the era of COVID-19. What are the challenges and opportunities that they face as they develop their young careers in One Health? In this webinar, speakers representing various One Health student and professional networks will reflect on their personal journeys and share their ideas for the future of One Health education, research and practice. Speakers will open the webinar with a quick round on their own experiences in One Health, which will then be followed by an interactive discussion and an open Q&A session for the audience to interact.

Learning and Adapting during COVID-19 Series | Webinar 3: Can a Planetary Health Lens Inform Pandemic Response?
June 30 2020, Webinar
This webinar will introduce the nascent field of planetary health, examine its links with COVID-19 and other contemporary health challenges, and explore how it can contribute to international development policy and implementation.

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.

GAELF 11
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.