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WHO Seeking Feedback to Guide Diagnostic Development for Schisto and STH & 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.  


Hon. Minister of State for Health, Hon. Rhobinah Nabbanja shows Uganda’s newly launched sustainability plan for NTDs at the launch on February 4, 2020.

Photo credit: Act to End Neglected Tropical Diseases | East

Lymphatic filariasis

National effort begins to eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis

Guyana Times
A mass drug administration will commence on Monday for the final lap of the Lymphatic Filariasis Elimination Campaign, in which Guyana will seek to completely eradicate the disease.

Genome editing as control tool for filarial infections

Alexander Kwarteng, Augustina Sylverken, Ebenezer Asiedu, and Samuel Terkper Ahuno
Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy
Highlights: Filarial infections pose serious health threats to endemic populations. Existing filaria disease control measures are met with several challenges. Genome editing tools are widely integrated in the control strategies of several infectious diseases. CRISPR-Cas9 tools presents the best option to achieve effective elimination of filarial infections.


Progress towards onchocerciasis elimination in Côte d’Ivoire: A geospatial modelling study

Obiora A. Eneanya et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
This study further documents the significant reduction of onchocerciasis infection following widespread use of ivermectin for onchocerciasis control in Côte d’Ivoire. Maps produced predict areas at risk for ongoing infection and transmission. Onchocerciasis might be eliminated in Côte d’Ivoire in the future with a combination of sustained CDTi with high coverage, active surveillance, and close monitoring for persistent infection in previously hyper-endemic areas.


Public consultation: Target Product Profiles for diagnostic tests to meet Schistosomiasis and Soil-transmitted Helminth program

Jonathan King
World Health Organization
Currently effective tools for monitoring and evaluation of both schistosomiasis and STH control programs are available and based on egg detection in faces or urine. However cost, challenges of obtaining samples, and the need for trained personnel and equipment limit frequency of monitoring. The purpose of the monitoring and evaluation Target Product Profiles (TPP) proposed by WHO’s Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases (WHO NTD) for schistosomiasis is to guide development of new diagnostic tools to reliably measure when prevalence is above or below a cut off of 10% in school age children. The purpose of the surveillance TPP proposed by WHO NTD is to guide development of new diagnostic tools to reliably detect 3% infection prevalence. The purpose of the M&E TPP for STH proposed by WHO NTD is to lead to development of new diagnostic tools to reliably make program decisions on whether STH programs should start PC, move towards the next phase or ultimately stop PC, based on WHO’s decision algorithm. The WHO is asking for feedback on all three TPPs. Feedback is invited from experts in the industry, product development, parasitologists, the scientific community, NTD programme personnel and other technicians currently implementing WHO recommended surveys.

SCHISTOX: An individual based model for the epidemiology and control of schistosomiasis

Matthew Graham et al.
Infectious Disease Modelling
We analyse the model dynamics by parameterizing it with published parameter values. We also discuss the development of SCHISTOX in the form of a publicly available open-source GitHub repository. The next key development stage involves validating the model by calibrating to epidemiological data.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Soil-transmitted helminths and schistosome infections in Ethiopia: a systematic review of progress in their control over . . .

Rosie Maddren et al.
Parasites & Vectors
The prevalence of STH and SCH in Ethiopia has decreased over time due to the strategic use of anthelmintics. Both standardising and increasing the sensitivity of the diagnostics used, alongside the ubiquitous use of parasite intensity with prevalence, would enable a more accurate and comparable understanding of Ethiopia’s epidemiological progress. Further work is needed on community-wide surveillance in order to understand the burden and subsequent need for treatment among those outside of the standard school-based control program.

Individual adherence to mass drug administration in neglected tropical disease control: A probability model conditional . . .

Robert J. Hardwick et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
We present a general framework which describes the systematic (binary) scenario of individuals either taking treatment or not for any reason, over the course of mass drug administration (MDA)—which we refer to as ‘adherence’ and ‘non-adherence’. The probability models developed can be informed by observed adherence behaviour as well as employed to explore how different patterns influence the impact of MDA programmes, by the use of mathematical models of transmission and control. We demonstrate the interpretative value of the developed probability model employing a dataset collected in the TUMIKIA project, a randomised trial of deworming strategies to control soil-transmitted helminths (STH) by MDA conducted in coastal Kenya


Hopes for trachoma control in South Sudan

Jacqui Thornton
The Lancet
Even 1 year after the war ended, much is still unknown about trachoma in South Sudan. Although the country is relatively peaceful, community tensions remain, and COVID-19 has complicated health-care delivery. Only 28 out of 79 counties have been mapped for trachoma, so it is unclear where and how serious the needs are. Treatment for trachoma has been unavailable in the unmapped regions.. . . In February, 2021, the Ministry of Health is beginning activities to map 25 new counties for trachoma in collaboration with a UK-aid funded consortium programme called Ascend, which is tackling five NTDs in a £200 million project in 25 countries over 3 years. South Sudan is receiving £9·6 million.

International Women’s Day 2020: #EachforEqual

International Coalition for Trachoma Control
Gender interacts with all kinds of inequalities in life across social class, race and ethnicity, economics and health. This is no less significant when considering the impact of gender within the global program to eliminate trachoma as a public health problem. . . . To mark International Women’s Day 2020, ICTC spoke with Dr Agatha Aboe, Dr. Martha Saboya and Tigist Astale who are challenging gender stereotypes and making significant individual impacts to global elimination progress.

Fighting Trachoma in Ethiopia - 5 Questions with an Orbis-trained Healthcare Worker

Bekelech is a Health Extension Worker in southern Ethiopia. In December, she was part of the Orbis team that treated 7.5 million people to prevent the spread of trachoma. Read on to learn about Bekelech's sight-saving work... and her heartfelt message to Orbis supporters.


Wealthier countries are missing the goal when it comes to fighting NTDs

Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases
Sub-Saharan Africa countries with modest or low gross domestic products (GDPs) like Chad, Burkina Faso, and Burundi are outperforming wealthier nations in the fight against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), according to the new African NTD league table.. . . The latest league table is positive: Compared to 2015, fewer people in Africa require treatment for at least one NTD. Simultaneously, the number of people receiving preventive treatments for at least one NTD is going up in Africa. Put simply: Based on the latest league table, Africa is making progress in the fight to beat NTDs. Thoko Pooley, Executive Director of Uniting to Combat NTDs, said: “Every year the NTD league table enables us to take a deep look at where we are seeing progress towards beating NTDs and where that progress has slowed. It is striking to see that when it comes to fighting neglected tropical diseases, wealthier nations are amongst the poorest performers. Hopefully this league table will spur countries with the means into action to change the lives of their poorest citizens by ending these diseases of poverty."

Ugandan government launches a national sustainability plan for neglected tropical diseases

Act to End Neglected Tropical Diseases | East
On February 4, 2021, Uganda launched a national sustainability plan for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), reaching a new milestone in its progress to control and eliminate these diseases.


Testing Integrated Approaches to Address NTDs in Liberia

American Leprosy Missions
The AIM Initiative, a program of American Leprosy Missions, is taking on this challenge in Liberia with an integrated approach to improve case finding, identification, and access to morbidity management and disability prevention (MMDP) services.

Social and environmental risk factors for dengue in Delhi city: A retrospective study

Olivier Telle et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
We found that access to tap water was an important risk factor for exposure to dengue virus (DENV) and this was confirmed even within the socially disadvantaged sub-districts. The Wealthy colonies had a high burden of DENV infection despite low mosquito densities, likely linked to their connectedness through daily human mobility. The winter burden of dengue occurred majoritarily in the socio-economically disadvantaged colonies, which also have higher mean temperatures and urban heat islands. Improved access to tap water could lead to a reduction in dengue, not only for those directly affected but for the general population. Targeted intervention through mosquito control in winter in the socially disadvantaged areas could offer a rational strategy for optimising control efforts.

Call for Applications: The Royal Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene Small Grants Programme

The Royal Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene
The 2021 Small Grants Programme is now open to applications. Early career researchers and global health professionals based anywhere in the world can apply for up to £5,000 of funding for up to 1 year on a topic related to tropical medicine and global health. The Programme funds projects across the research spectrum, including lab-based, clinical, implementation and policy-related research. For this year’s programme, we are partnering with CIFF who will be funding up to 14 awards to African researchers and the International Alliance for the Control of Scabies who will be funding 1 award on scabies.

Request for Proposals for Implementation Research in Health Campaign Effectiveness. . .

Health Campaign Effectiveness Coalition
The Health Campaign Effectiveness (HCE) program at the Task Force for Global Health, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, announces a funding opportunity of up to USD $150,000 for implementation research (IR). The purpose of these upcoming awards is to support low and middle income countries and their partners to conduct IR on integrating two or more health campaigns (or specific campaign components) and/or transitioning health campaign interventions into primary health care systems, when appropriate. The health campaigns of interest are related to neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), malaria, polio eradication, vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs), and vitamin A supplementation (VAS). Proposals and budgets are due by March 1, 2021 at 9:00 AM EST (GMT-5).

Call for Manuscripts: Special Issue "Formulation Development for Treatment of Tropical Diseases"

A special issue of Pharmaceutics (ISSN 1999-4923). This special issue belongs to the section "Physical Pharmacy and Formulation". Deadline for manuscript submissions: 10 August 2021.

Call for Submissions: Innovative Solutions To Beat NTDs

American Leprosy Missions
American Leprosy Missions develops and invests in approaches, systems, technologies and tools that create sustainable, positive impact for people affected, accelerating the exploration and application of novel solutions to cure, care and end high-morbidity NTDs. 2021abstract submission will open March 1 and close April 30.

Operational Research to Support the Call for Proposals: Elimination of Communicable Diseases in the Latin America/Caribbean

Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and Special Program for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR)
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in collaboration with the Special Program for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR), is pleased to announce the 2021 – 2022 call for applications for the Joint PAHO/TDR Small Grant Scheme for operational research to support the elimination of communicable diseases in the Latin American and Caribbean Region. Deadline for submission: 15 March 2021 (23:59 Eastern Standard Time) Eligible Countries: Only applicants from the Latin American and Caribbean are eligible


Adapting an integrated neglected tropical disease programme in response to COVID-19

Amy Clark et al.
Transactions of The Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
The COVID-19 pandemic hit at a time when the Ascend West and Central Africa programme was nearing the end of its first year of a 3-y programme. This article reflects on key lessons learnt from the rapid adaptation of an integrated neglected tropical disease (NTD) programme to support COVID-19 responses in 11 countries. It shares the experiences of adopting a flexible and directive approach, leveraging the NTD network and relationships, and working in collaboration with multiple ministry departments, commercial sector partners and the UK Foreign Commonwealth Development Office to repurpose over £6 million of budget.

Implications of the COVID-19 Lockdown on Dengue Transmission in Malaysia

Song-Quan Ong, Hamdan Ahmad and Ahmad Mohiddin Mohd Ngesom
Infectious Disease Reports
This study compared the weekly dengue incidences during the period of lockdown to the previous years (2015 to 2019) and a Seasonal Autoregressive Integrated Moving Average (SARIMA) model that expected no movement restrictions. We found that the trend of dengue incidence during the first two weeks (stage 1) of lockdown decreased significantly with the incidences lower than the lower confidence level (LCL) of SARIMA. . . . However, starting from stage 2 of lockdown, the dengue incidences demonstrated an elevation and earlier rebound by four weeks and grew with an exponential pattern. We revealed that Aedes albopictus is the predominant species and demonstrated a strong correlation with the locally reported dengue incidences, and therefore we proposed the possible diffusive effect of the vector that led to a higher acceleration of incidence rate.

Thirty-three countries in the African region have established National Immunization Technical Advisory Groups (NITAGs) . . .

S Ndiaye
World Health Organization Africa
The Global Vaccine Action Plan (2011-2020) stipulates that countries need to build strong governance of their immunization programs, and provide equitable immunization services for all. The establishment of an independent advisory body such as a National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) is a critical step to strengthening immunization systems through adoption of evidence-based policies and strategies. NITAGs are expected to provide data-driven policy recommendations that assist decision makers to make the right choices in immunization programming. One of the milestones of the WHO African Regional Strategic Plan for Immunization (RSPI) 2014-2020 is for all countries in the region to establish fully functioning NITAGs. As of November 2020, 33 of the 47 countries in the region have established NITAGs (Figure 3). However, according to a recent assessment, only 20 of these countries had NITAGs that were fully functioning by the end of 2019, as per the WHO criteria (Figure 4).

Not only COVID-19: public-private partnerships delivering new drugs to fight diseases of poverty

Willo Brock, Andrea Lucard, and Mark Sullivan
DevPolicy Blog
A notable bright spot in global progress against NTDs is the recent wave of successes by product development partnerships (PDPs). The history, impact, and future potential of PDPs are documented in a recently released report, Keeping the promise, which reveals that since 2010, a group of 12 PDPs have developed and introduced 66 new treatments, vaccines, diagnostics, vector controls and devices for diseases of poverty, which have benefitted more than 2.4 billion people around the world. A third example of partnership-based innovation comes from Medicines Development for Global Health (MDGH), an Australian not-for-profit biopharmaceutical company. MDGH completed a first stage of development of moxidectin for treatment of onchocerciasis, more commonly known as river blindness.


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

Systematizing the One Health Approach in Preparedness and Response Efforts for Infectious Disease Outbreaks - A Virtual Workshop
February 23-25, 2021
NASEM Health and Medicine

RTI’s New Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, Learning, and Adapting (MERLA) Course 
February 25, 2021
RTI International

Gender Based Analysis for Climate Change and Vector Borne Disease Online Short Course
February 22- March 26, 2021; Deadline for submission of application: February 12th, 2021
African Regional Training Centre

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

Zero Discrimination Day
March 1, 2021

World Lymphedema Day
March 6, 2021
Lymphatic Education & Research Network

International Women's Day
March 8, 2021
International Women's Day

ISNTD Festival 2021
March 24-25, 2021
International Society for Neglected Tropical Diseases

World Health Day
April 7, 2021
World Health Organization

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

World Field Epidemiology Day 
September 7, 2021
Training Programs in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network

NTD NGO Network Conference 2021
September 7-9, 2021
Neglected Tropical Disease NGO Network