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WHO recommends triple drug therapy to accelerate global elimination of lymphatic filariasis, DFID calls for Research on Equity of MDA & 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.


Lymphatic filariasis

WHO recommends triple drug therapy to accelerate global elimination of lymphatic filariasis

Ashok Moloo
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization (WHO) is recommending an alternative three drug treatment to accelerate the global elimination of lymphatic filariasis - a disabling and disfiguring neglected tropical disease.

A Massive Success

Bill Gates
Gates Notes
Health workers have an unusual tool for fighting disease that turns our old thinking about treatment on its head. I saw it at work recently in a remote hilltop village in Tanzania, where I joined a group of health workers going from house to house to distribute medicine to wipe out lymphatic filariasis, one of the world’s most painful and debilitating diseases.

Trust Greases Wheels in Race against Lymphatic Filariasis

The Carter Center
The Hispaniola Initiative aims to eliminate lymphatic filariasis (LF) in both countries by 2020 through mass distribution of the drugs albendazole and diethylcarbamazine (DEC), which kill the worm larvae. The tablets have to be taken once a year for several years to reduce the parasite population to the point where there’s not enough in anyone’s blood to cause problems,

New Mapping Tool Saves Ethiopia and Tanzania $9.2 Million in Unnecessary Treatment Costs for Lymphatic Filariasis

Poul Olson
The Task Force for Global Health
A new mapping tool developed by The Task Force for Global Health and its partners has helped Ethiopia and Tanzania reduce the number of districts needing mass drug administration for lymphatic filariasis (LF), saving an estimated $9.2 million in treatment costs.

Pact Signed To Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis

The Fiji Sun
The launch of ‘Project for Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis in the Pacific Region’ was signed between the Deputy Secretary of Public Health Dr Eric Rafai and Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) Detailed Design Survey team leader Dr Hirotsugu Aiga.

What is Scrotal Elephantiasis? Kenyan man has surgery after 11-pound testicles left him barely able to walk

Conor Gaffey
Owiti Opiyo thought he was cursed by the devil...His huge genitals left Opiyo unable to walk properly or even wear clothes and resulted in social isolation and stigma. But after undergoing surgery, Opiyo says that he is looking forward to his future.

Plans to eradicate elephantiasis by 2020

Mazera Ndurya
The Star, Kenya
For the men, the mention of elephantiasis, also known as lymphatic filariasis, a debilitating disease that affects sex organs and limbs, sends shivers down their spine. For ages this has been a burden that those infected and affected have had to bear. But now the World Health Organization says Kenya is on track towards eliminating elephantiasis.

Lymphatic Filariasis on the Run in Nigeria

Jim Kavanagh
Georgia Global Health Alliance
Herded outdoors by their teachers, bright-eyed children chatter, their blue-and-white school uniforms gleaming in a sharp but wiggly queue. Their excitement ebbs just a bit when they reach the front of the line and get a finger pricked by an adult wearing surgical gloves. The momentary pain of these schoolchildren in central Nigeria's Nasarawa state portends significant gain for themselves, their families, and their country. Carter Center-trained researchers from the state Ministry of Health are testing the children's blood for signs of lymphatic filariasis, a tropical infection that can cause painful, permanent, debilitating enlargement of the legs and other extremities.


Albendazole and antibiotics synergize to deliver short-course anti-Wolbachia curative treatments in preclinical models of...

Joseph D. Turner et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Filarial nematode infections, caused by Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi (elephantiasis), and Onchocerca volvulus (river blindness) infect 150 million of the world’s poorest populations and cause profound disability. Standard treatments require repetitive, long-term, mass drug administrations and have failed to interrupted transmission in certain sub-Saharan African regions

Supportive Supervision during Ghana’s 2017 Onchocercaisis Survey

END in Africa
In 2017, END in Africa Project Director Bolivar Pou visited Ghana with three goals in mind: (1) reviewing progress toward neglected tropical disease (NTD) control and elimination in Ghana with staff from the national NTD program and FHI 360 (FHI 360 is the implementing agency in Ghana for the END in Africa project); (2) identifying and finding solutions to national NTD program challenges; and (3) conducting a field visit to the Twifo-Adi-Mokwa district to observe an onchocerciasis survey.

Innovation: Taking the Neglect out of Neglected Diseases, Part II

Trevor Mundel
Impatient Optimists
I speak often about the connection between early stage research and long-term impact, because without investing in one, you can’t have the other. Several months ago, I talked about the fight against onchocerciasis – also known as “river blindness” – as a prime example of an area where we’re making excellent progress because of this approach.

Cellphone-based microscope leads to possible strategy for treating river blindness

Elizabeth Deatrick
National Institutes of Health
In a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine, scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, and other organizations describe how a cell phone-based videomicroscope can provide fast and effective testing for L. loa parasites in the blood, allowing these individuals to be protected from the adverse effects of ivermectin.


Schistosomiasis Linked With HIV Infection

Nicola M. Parry
A recent study has shown that women with schistosomiasis are at greater risk for HIV infection. Jennifer A. Downs, MD, MSc, Center for Global Health, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, New York, and colleagues published the results of their study September 25, 2017 in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Maternal urogenital schistosomiasis; monitoring disease morbidity by simple reagent strips

Oyetunde T. Oyeyemi and Alexander B. Odaibo
Urine analysis is one of the recommended antenatal guidelines for early diagnosis of pregnancy-associated complications. While in practice, urine analysis by dipstick had been used to provide useful information on other urinary tract infections, its applications for early detection of urogenital schistosomiasis in pregnant women is often times not given due attention in most endemic areas. Our study therefore assessed the performance of some common urinalysis parameters in the diagnosis of maternal urogenital schistosomiasis in endemic rural communities of Nigeria.

Utilizing the ultrasensitive Schistosoma up-converting phosphor lateral flow circulating anodic antigen (UCP-LF CAA) assay for..

Paul L. A. M. Corstjens et al.
Infectious Diseases of Poverty
Methodological applications of the high sensitivity genus-specific Schistosoma CAA strip test, allowing detection of single worm active infections (ultimate sensitivity), are discussed for efficient utilization in sample pooling strategies. Besides relevant cost reduction, pooling of samples rather than individual testing can provide valuable data for large scale mapping, surveillance, and monitoring.

To Reduce the Global Burden of Human Schistosomiasis, Use ‘Old Fashioned’ Snail Control

Susanne H. Sokolow et al.
Trends in Parasitology
Control strategies to reduce human schistosomiasis have evolved from ‘snail picking’ campaigns, a century ago, to modern wide-scale human treatment campaigns, or preventive chemotherapy. Unfortunately, despite the rise in preventive chemotherapy campaigns, just as many people suffer from schistosomiasis today as they did 50 years ago. Snail control can complement preventive chemotherapy by reducing the risk of transmission from snails to humans.

The use of geographic information system as a tool for schistosomiasis surveillance in the province of Davao del Norte...

Vicente Y. Belizario et al.
Geospatial Health
Schistosomiasis (SCH) in The Philippines is caused by Schistosoma japonicum and remains endemic in 28 provinces in 12 regions. Effective SCH control requires describing areas at risk where control efforts may be focused. This study aims at demonstrating the utility of geographical information system (GIS) as a tool for SCH surveillance in the province of Davao del Norte.

The potential for using red claw crayfish and hybrid African catfish as biological control agents for Schistosoma host snails

Concillia Monde, Stephen Syampungani, Andrea Rico and Paul J. Van den Brink
African Journal of Aquatic Science
The potential of red claw crayfish and hybrid African catfish (Clarias gariepinus and Clarias ngamensis) as predators for Schistosoma host snails was evaluated in 2014 by monitoring the consumption of snails by crayfish and catfish in experimental tanks over time under laboratory conditions. After 15 days, both crayfish and catfish had significantly reduced the populations of Bulinus globosus. Crayfish consumed 6.9 snails d−1, whereas catfish consumed 5.9 snails d−1.

Egypt: The flatworm's revenge

Louise Sarant
Nature International Journal of Science
Since the dawn of the Egyptian civilization — and probably long before that — parasitic flatworms of the species Schistosoma haematobium have lurked in the River Nile. They grow inside river snails and emerge into the water looking for their next home. When a worm encounters a human, it burrows through the skin and travels through the blood vessels to the liver, where it turns into a fluke.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Hookworm: a neglected resurgent infection

Marco Albonico and Lorenzo Savioli
Hookworms are a group of soil transmitted helminths included in the World Health Organization’s portfolio of neglected tropical diseases. Ancylostoma duodenale and Necator americanus infect humans. In addition, the primarily canine hookworm, Ancylostoma ceylanicum, is now recognised as an important cause of zoonotic disease, particularly in South East Asia.

Prevalence of Intestinal Helminths Infestation in Children Attending Princess Marie Louise Children’s Hospital in Accra, Ghana

Robert Mirisho, Margaret L. Neizer and Bismark Sarfo
Journal of Parasitology Research
The deworming exercise program does not cover all children who are not in school. This study determined the prevalence and species type of helminth infestation and associated factors among children attending Princess Marie Louise Children’s Hospital in Accra, Ghana. Children (225) below the age of 10 who have not taken antihelminthic drugs prior to the study period were recruited between May and June 2015.


Francophone Countries Team Up to Eliminate Trachoma

Poul Olson
The Task Force for Global Health
French-speaking countries in West Africa are joining forces to eliminate trachoma under a new initiative spearheaded by The Task Force’s International Trachoma Initiative (ITI).

Closing the Gap for Vision

Hugh Taylor
The University of Melbourne
Back in 2008, the National Indigenous Eye Health Survey found by the age of 40 and above Indigenous adults had six times as much blindness than non-indigenous people. This, despite the fact that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children had much less poor vision than non-indigenous children.

VIDEO: Trachoma victims to receive surgery in Amudat district

New Vision TV
The ministry of health has embarked on carrying out massive treatment for persons with Trachoma in those four districts of Karamoja.

CRSG concludes 3rd round Deworming Exercise, debunked Monkeypox rumours

Calabar Reporters
The third round school based deworming exercise organised by the State Government as a Preventative Chemotherapy against Neglected Tropical Diseases has been concluded. The exercise was targeted at school aged children between the ages of 5-14 years took place in primary and secondary schools across the State saw the children receive preventive care against NTDs. NTDs are very endemic to Sub Saharan Africa, and they include Schistosomiasis, Onchocerciasis, Lymphatic Filariasis amongst others.

A sight for sore eyes: An English optometrist is raising funds for a charitable trip to Sierra Leone

Ash Bolton
Sur in English
An Estepona eye specialist is set to fly to Sierra Leone next month to help improve the eyesight of some of the country's poorest people. Jane Machin will join a team of five British optometrists who will help diagnose sight-related problems and provide training for local technicians and students.


Call for Proposals: Operational Research on Equitable Access to Mass Drug Administration for NTDs

Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center
The Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center at The Task Force for Global Health is currently soliciting proposals for operational research nested in national programs targeting lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, and trachoma. Projects will be funded by the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID) via its support for the Coalition for Operational Research on NTDs (COR-NTD)...The principal focus for this call for proposals – the first of a series – is on equitable access to mass drug administration (MDA), with selected projects conducted by or in close coordination with national neglected tropical disease (NTD) programs.

WHO Focus on Human Rights: Will it Extend to Neglected Tropical Diseases?

Joseph J. Amon
Health and Human Rights Journal
When Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was elected as WHO Director-General earlier this year, there was a sense among people working on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) that there may be new attention, and resources, for efforts at eliminating NTDs. The diverse group of bacterial, viral, and parasitic diseases collectively identified as “neglected tropical diseases” are understood as both a cause and a consequence of poverty, causing physical and intellectual impairments, preventing children from attending school, and reducing economic productivity.

Former NIMR director scoops prize for efforts to control neglected diseases

Syriacus Buguzi
The Citizen
Former director general of the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), Dr Mwele Malecela, has been awarded the 2017 Kyelem Prize in recognition of her efforts in controlling neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Dr Mwele, who is currently the director in the office of the regional director of World Health Organisation-Africa, has been awarded alongside another prize winner, Prof David Molyneux, from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM).

Professor David Molyneux awarded the Dr Dominique Kyelem Prize

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
LSTM’s Professor David Molyneux has been awarded this year’s Dominique Kyelem Prize at the COR-NTD annual meeting in Baltimore, USA, together with Dr Mwele Malecela, from Tanzania. The award is given annually in memory of Dr Kyelem, a medical doctor from Burkina Faso, who was a District Medical Officer and then Programme Manager for the National Lymphatic Filariasis Programme.

Mass drugs programme to fight neglected tropical diseases starts

Nyaradzo Bakari
The Chronicle (Zimbabwe)
The mass drug administration programme targeting both children and adults as part of efforts to fight neglected tropical diseases starts today. The Bulawayo City Council has urged people to participate in the programme after a study showed that 15 percent of residents in the city, especially school going children, are at risk of contracting bilharzia, elephantiasis and soil transmitted helminthiasis, among others.

Call to embrace medicines that prevent tropical diseases

Victor Maphosa
The Herald
Zimbabweans should embrace taking medicines that help prevent neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), the director of epidemiology and disease control in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Portia Manangazira has said.

Neglected diseases under spotlight

Thandeka Moyo
The Chronicle (Zimbabwe)
The Government is planning to embark on a national survey to determine the prevalence of neglected tropical diseases in the country. The Ministry of Health and Child Care has been rolling out programmes to immunise people against the diseases after a survey in 2010 established that there was a need for mass campaigns against bilharzia, elephantiasis, intestinal worms and blinding trachoma.

Attending to Neglected Tropical Diseases

Bruce Wilkinson
Catholic Medical Mission Board
The World Health Organization defined Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) as a “diverse group of communicable diseases that prevail in tropical and subtropical conditions in 149 countries – affecting more than one billion people and cost developing economies billions of dollars every year. Populations living in poverty, without adequate sanitation and in close contact with infectious vectors and domestic animals and livestock are those worst affected.”

Coinfection and Comorbidity of Neglected Tropical Diseases

Hindawi Journal of Tropical Medicine
This special issue aims to invite high quality original research papers, clinical studies as well as reviews, which contribute to our understanding of coinfections with multiple neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) or with NTDs and other types of pathogens causing non-NTDs such as HIV, malaria, or tuberculosis in tropical and subtropical regions. Such articles could address specific research challenges posed by coinfections (e.g., diagnostic methods, biomarker identification, quantifying population burden, and identifying risk factors) as well as those, which characterize clinical outcomes for affected populations

"We Need to Celebrate Our Success”: The Role of Medical Donations in the Advancement of Neglected Tropical Disease Programs

Beth Hodges
Map International's Health and Hope Blog
Medical Assistance Programs (MAP) International Vice President, Jodi Allison is co-chairing the 2017 Neglected Tropical Diseases Forum to highlight successes in reducing mortality rates, and discussing the impact of medical donation programs in the fight against NTDs


Snake bite in India: a neglected disease of poverty

Himmatrao Saluba Bawaskar, Parag Himmatrao Bawaskar and Pramodini Himmatrao Bawaskar
The Lancet
In India, common venomous snakes include the common krait (Bungarus caeruleus), the Indian cobra (Naja naja), Russell's viper (Daboia russelii), and Echis carinatus. All of these snakes, except the common krait, typically bite during the day or early evening; their bites are associated with severe and rapidly progressing oedema, pain, and visible fang marks.

Why aren’t we curing the world’s most curable diseases?

Katherine J. Wu
The Conversation
Recognizing that the populations most at risk of disease were those least able to afford treatment, Merck & Co. pledged to join the fight to end river blindness. Thirty years ago this October, the pharmaceutical company vowed that it would immediately begin distributing the drug free of charge, to any country that requested it, “for as long as needed.” It was the final piece of the puzzle: an effective drug for a tragic and completely preventable disease. And we all lived happily ever after.

Multifaceted approach key to eradicating malaria

Karen Feldscher
Harvard Gazette
Throughout the twentieth century, researchers hoped to discover a “magic bullet” to cure malaria. But today experts realize that efforts to curb or eradicate the mosquito-borne disease must be multifaceted, from research to policy efforts to use of on-the-ground tools such as pesticides and bed nets.

New leprosy vaccine approved for testing on humans

Eleni Helbling
In mid-October, a new leprosy vaccine was approved for human clinical trials. The study is aimed at determining whether the vaccine – the first to be specifically developed to combat leprosy – could represent a realistic treatment option for leprosy sufferers.

Leprosy neglected in Nigeria as health spotlight turns away

Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
One of the oldest known diseases, first mentioned in written records in 600 BC, leprosy still effects millions of people. Between 200,000 and 300,000 new leprosy cases have been detected globally every year since 2005, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Science minister roots for technology at UN meet

Olive Eyotaru
The Observer
Science, technology and innovation could be the magic bullet for countries to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Minister Elioda Tumwesigye has said. Dr Tumwesigye, who heads Uganda’s science and technology docket, was recently in Brussels, Belgium, to deliver a keynote speech at the Global Science, Technology and Innovation conference.

Economic evaluations of mass drug administration: The importance of economies of scale and scope

Hugo Turner et al.
Clinical Infectious Diseases
It is recognised that changing the current approaches for the control of the neglected tropical diseases will be needed to reach the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2020 goals. Consequently, it is important that economic evaluations of the alternative approaches are conducted. A vital component of such evaluations is the issue of how the intervention’s costs should be incorporated. We discuss this issue – focusing on mass drug administration

GHIT Fund announces US$16.7 million to support development of new drugs, vaccines and diagnostics

News Medical Life Sciences
The Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund, a unique Japanese public-private partnership formed to battle infectious diseases around the globe, today announced US$16.7 million to support development of new compounds for fighting malaria and tuberculosis, a leishmaniasis vaccine and drug, and a treatment for a long-ignored flesh-eating infection.

Indoor and outdoor malaria vector surveillance in western Kenya: implications for better understanding of residual transmission

Teshome Degefa et al.
Malaria Journal
The widespread use of indoor-based malaria vector control interventions has been shown to alter the behaviour of vectors in Africa. There is an increasing concern that such changes could sustain residual transmission. This study was conducted to assess vector species composition, feeding behaviour and their contribution to indoor and outdoor malaria transmission in western Kenya.

Why The United States Must Sustain Global Health Investments

Loyce Pace and Maria Thacker
U.S. investments in global health also draw attention to and prioritize solutions that address non-communicable and other neglected health threats that are increasingly affecting the economies of key U.S. trading partners globally. Investments also help protect the health of Americans by strengthening countries’ capacity to better prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease outbreaks that know no borders. Take for example the Decatur based Task Force for Global Health. Not only is the organization helping drive the elimination of neglected tropical diseases and the eradication of polio, but it is also building capacity of developing countries to protect against disease threats such as Ebola and Zika.

Upcoming Events

Swedish-Ethiopian Course in Tropical Infections
November 13, 2017 - February 11, 2018, Stockholm, Sweden
Karolinska University Hospital
This is a course in clinical tropical medicine and HIV for clinicians. The overall aim is to provide general knowledge about infectious diseases which require or thrive in a warm climate and / or are important causes of morbidity and mortality in low-income countries. The focus is on diagnosis and treatment both in situations with scarce resources and in more affluent countries. The field visit to Ethiopia gives the participants a unique experience of the health system and infectious disease panorama in a developing country.

ISNTD Water 2017
November 23, 2017 London, UK 
Natural History Museum
ISNTD Water provides the multidisciplinary platform and network for the research, charity and business sectors to partner and collaborate to address diseases and conditions of poverty worldwide.

World Vaccine & Immunotherapy Congress West Coast
November 30 - December 1, San Diego, CA
Following on from the highly successful World Vaccine Congress series in Washington DC and Europe for the past 18 years, the San Diego event will offer learning and business development opportunities taking advantage of the rich biotech and funding environment that the west coast offers.

Universal Health Coverage Forum
Dec.12-14 2017 Tokyo, Japan
The UHC Forum aims to stimulate global and country-level progress towards UHC, including pandemic preparedness, through review of UHC progress at global, regional and country level and sharing of country experiences.

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

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

Eradicate Malaria World Congress 2018
July 1-5, 2018, Melbourne, Australia
The inaugural World Congress on Malaria - Eradicate Malaria 2018 - will bring together the broad global community including implementers, scientists, funders, governments, policy makers and those directly affected by the disease. The aim is to bring the broad spectrum of the malaria world together for the first time, to further galvanise the effort for the eradication of malaria.