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World Health Assembly Endorses Bold New Road Map Targets for 2030 & 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

Strong leadership, drug donations helped Malawi eliminate elephantiasis

Sara Jerving
Devex
Just over a decade ago, there were parts of Malawi where nearly 80% of the population was infected by lymphatic filariasis, or LF, a parasitic disease spread by mosquitoes and commonly known as elephantiasis. . . . But the country turned this around, recently becoming only the second in sub-Saharan Africa to stop the transmission of the disease, after Togo in 2017. The World Health Organization attributes Malawi’s success to political will, which allowed it to scale up the distribution of donated drugs very quickly.

Gout Medications Prove Effective Against Elephantiasis

Colleen Fleiss
Drug News
Sulfinpyrazone and probenecid, the two common FDA-approved gout medications were found to cause rapid death to the parasites that cause elephantiasis, said researchers at the Uniformed Services University (USU).

Poor campaign, aversion to medicines — why India is unlikely to eliminate filariasis by 2021

Himani Chandna
The Print
Aversion to taking preventive medicines, poor awareness campaigns & an outdated surveillance mechanism have been responsible for this delay in meeting elimination targets.

Onchocerciasis

A Call for Diagnostic Research Proposals for LF and Onchocerciasis

Emily Owens, The Task Force for Global Health
American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene
The Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center, with USAID funding through the Coalition for Operational Research of Neglected Tropical Diseases (COR-NTD) grant, is soliciting proposals to address the urgent priorities outlined by the WHO DTAG subgroups for lymphatic filariasis (LF) and onchocerciasis.

Schistosomiasis

Fast and reliable easy-to-use diagnostics for eliminating bilharzia in young children and mothers. . .

Pytsje T.Hoekstra et al.
Acta Tropica
The overall objective of the ‘fast and reliable easy-to-use diagnostics for eliminating bilharzia in young children and mothers’ (freeBILy, www.freeBILy.eu) project is to thoroughly evaluate the point-of-care circulating cathodic antigen (POC-CCA) and the up-converting phosphor reporter particle, lateral flow circulating anodic antigen (UCP-LF CAA) urine strip tests to diagnose Schistosoma infections in pregnant women and young children and to assess their potential as a schistosomiasis control tool in test-and-treat strategies. The freeBILy project will generate valuable, evidence-based findings on improved tools and test-and-treat strategies to reduce the burden of schistosomiasis in pregnant women and young children.

Modeling schistosomiasis spatial risk dynamics over time in Rwanda using zero-inflated Poisson regression

Elias Nyandwi, Frank Badu Osei, Tom Veldkamp, and Sherif Amer
Scientific Reports
This study developed a zero-inflated Poisson model to explore the spatiotemporal variation in schistosomiasis risk at a fine spatial scale. We used environmental data generated at primary health facility service area level as explanatory variables affecting transmission risk. Identified risk factors were subsequently used to project the spatial variability of S. mansoni infection risk for 2050.

A Novel Treatment of Schistosomiasis: Nano-Calcium Silicate Incorporating 5% Copper Oxide

Mohamed Fathallah Abou El-Nour et al.
Advanced Pharmaceutical Bulletin
The results declare that CS-5% CuO exhibited excellent anti-schistosomal activities on both in vitro and in vivo experiments for both Egyptians Schistosoma strains. The most potential effect of the CS-5% CuO was exhibited after 6 h by 10 μg∕mL with significant activity of (P value= 0.001). Therefore, CS-5%CuO may become an innovative treatment for the schistosomiasis.

Schistosomiasis and climate change

Giulio A De Leo et al.
BMJ
In summary, schistosomiasis transmission is expected to decrease in central areas of its current climatic location (that is, tropical Africa), because temperatures will exceed the critical thermal maximum of snails as a result of climate change. Transmission is expected to increase at the margins of the cooler range, where temperatures are currently too low for transmission.

Evaluating the impact of biannual school-based and community-wide treatment on urogenital schistosomiasis in Niger

Anna E. Phillips et al.
Parasites & Vectors
These findings are an important consideration for schistosomiasis control programmes that are considering elimination and support the idea that scaling up the frequency of treatment rounds, particularly in areas of low prevalence, will not eliminate schistosomiasis. Interestingly, the finding that prevalence decreased among adults in SBT arms suggests that transmission in the community can be reduced, even where only school children are being treated, which could have logistical and cost-saving implications for the national control programmes.

Parasitological Observation in Schoolchildren with Urogenital Schistosomiasis Following Treatment . . .Brands of Praziquantel

Yan Jin et al.
Journal of Korean Medical Science
There was no statistically significant difference in cure rates and egg-reduction rates between the three brands. We conclude that the three different commercial brands of praziquantel used in Sudan have similar anthelminthic effects on S. haematobium.

Monitoring schistosomiasis and sanitation interventions—The potential of environmental DNA

Teteh S. Champion, Stephanie Connelly, Cindy J. Smith, and Poppy H. L. Lamberton
WIREsWATER, Wiley
This article reports and critiques the methods currently used to monitor schistosomiasis in freshwater and soil environments and explores how environmental DNA could be used to better understand and monitor environmental contamination in relation to sanitation. Stronger evidence is required to understand how different sanitation interventions serve to limit the environmental transmission of the parasite and their relative effectiveness in preventing disease.

Celebrating WHO and Merck's partnership in the fight against schistosomiasis

Belén Garijo
LinkedIn
I had the pleasure to talk to Dr. Mwele Malecela, Director of the Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases at the World Health Organization, about Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) and our shared commitment to eliminate #schistosomiasis. By providing up to 250 million tablets every year to endemic countries, we are enabling the treatment of 100 million school-age children every year.

Worm War

The Scientist
Chelsea Wood, a University of Washington parasitologist and this month’s Scientist to Watch, gives an overview of her research on schistosomiasis in Africa.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Serious limitations of the current strategy to control STHs and added value of Ivermectin/Albendazole mass administration . . .

Linda Djune-Yemeli et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
These findings (i) suggest that Mebendazole- or Albendazole-based MDA alone distributed only to at-risk populations might not be enough to eliminate STH, (ii) support the collateral impact of Ivermectin/Albendazole MDA on A. lumbricoides and T. trichiura infections, and (iii) suggest that Ivermectin/Albendazole-based PC could accelerate STH transmission interruption.

Distribution Pattern of Soil-transmitted Helminths and Common Practices Enhancing Transmission in Owena, Southwestern Nigeria

Oluwaseun Bunmi Awosolu, Olubunmi Adu, and Titus Adeniyi Olusi
Asian Journal of Research in Infectious Diseases
The result revealed that out of the 200 soil samples, 61% were contaminated with at least one parasite. The parasites encountered include Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichiuris trichiura, hookworms and Strongyloides stercoralis. Hookworm have the highest contamination prevalence of 55.8%. Furthermore, the result showed that 167 (38.5%) of the respondents does not have appropriate means of waste disposal and as such 29 (14.5%) dispose their waste in the river and 165 (82.5%) dispose their waste materials in any available site such as bushes and backyards.

Concurrent infection of intestinal parasites and Helicobacter pylori among school-age children in Central Ethiopia

Hannah Spotts et al.
Parasite Epidemiology and Control
Our study shows a moderate prevalence of H. pylori and intestinal parasite co-infection and identified maternal education as a significant risk factor among school children.

Prevalence, Intensity, and Correlates of Schistosomiasis and STH Infections after Five Rounds of Preventive Chemotherapy . . .

Tigist Dires Gebreyesus et al.
Pathogens
Despite repeated PC, S. mansoni and STH infection remain significant health problems, and the WHO target to control schistosomiasis and eliminate STH by 2020 may not be achieved. Intensified control and prevention measures, including drug efficacy surveillance, is recommended.

Trachoma

Facial cleanliness indicators by time of day: results of a cross-sectional trachoma prevalence survey in Senegal

Emma M. Harding-Esch et al.
Parasites & Vectors
Given the high reported WASH access and use, the proportion of children with an unclean face indicator should have been low at the beginning of the day. This was not observed, explained either by: the facial indicators not being reliable measures of face washing; eye discharge, nose discharge or dirt rapidly re-accumulated after face washing in children in this population at the time of fieldwork; and/or responder bias to the risk factor questionnaire . . . A reliable, standardised, practical measure of face washing is needed, that reflects hygiene behaviour rather than environmental or cultural factors.

Cross-cutting

Neglected tropical diseases: World Health Assembly endorses bold new road map targets for 2030

World Health Organization
Today, delegates attending the virtual session of the Seventy-third World Health Assembly overwhelmingly endorsed the new road map for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) for 2021−2030. Ending the neglect to attain the Sustainable Development Goals: a road map for neglected tropical diseases 2021–2030 sets out global targets and actions to align and re-focus the work of countries, partners and stakeholders during the next decade, including cross-cutting targets aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals.

What To Know About Neglected Tropical Diseases

Ojoma Akor
Daily Trust
NTDs are a diverse group of communicable diseases that prevail in tropical and subtropical conditions in Nigeria and 148 other countries, according to the World Health Organsation (WHO). They affect more than one billion people and cost developing economies billions of dollars every year. Experts say they are responsible for thousands of preventable deaths every year and cause disabilities that perpetuate the cycle of poverty by keeping millions of adults out of work and children out of school.

Diagnostics and the neglected tropical diseases roadmap: setting the agenda for 2030

Ashley A. Souza et al.
Transactions of The Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Accurate and reliable diagnostic tools are an essential requirement for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) programmes. However, the NTD community has historically underinvested in the development and improvement of diagnostic tools, potentially undermining the successes achieved over the last 2 decades. Recognizing this, the WHO, in its newly released draft roadmap for NTD 2021–2030, has identified diagnostics as one of four priority areas requiring concerted action to reach the 2030 targets. As a result, WHO established a Diagnostics Technical Advisory Group (DTAG) to serve as the collaborative mechanism to drive progress in this area. Here, the purpose and role of the DTAG are described in the context of the challenges facing NTD programmes.

One Health for neglected tropical diseases

Gabrielle Laing et al.
Transactions of The Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
The forthcoming World Health Organization road map for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) 2021–2030 recognises the complexity surrounding control and elimination of these 20 diseases of poverty. It emphasises the need for a paradigm shift from disease-specific interventions to holistic cross-cutting approaches coordinating with adjacent disciplines. The One Health approach exemplifies this shift, extending beyond a conventional model of zoonotic disease control to consider the interactions of human and animal health systems within their shared environment and the wider social and economic context.

WASH and health working together: Why cross-sectoral collaboration is needed to accelerate and sustain progress for NTDs

ICTC Executive Group
International Coalition for Trachoma Control
The road map includes specific indicators for WASH, including 0% of the population practicing open defaecation and 100% of population using at least basic water supply by 2025, and 100% of population with hand-washing facilities, including soap and water by 2030.

Fourteen Scientists Selected for the Fourth Cohort of the African Researchers' Small Grants Program

Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center
Fourteen researchers from eight African countries have been identified as the fourth cohort of the African Researchers' Small Grants Program (SGP IV). The awardees were announced at the first-ever virtual meeting of the Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases (COR-NTD).

Massitan Dembélé and Yao Sodahlon Win 2020 Kyelem Prize

Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center
Today at the annual meeting of the Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases (COR-NTD), the Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center announced Doctors Massitan Dembélé and Yao Sodahlon as co-winners of the 2020 Kyelem Prize.

Towards a comprehensive research and development plan to support the control, elimination and eradication of neglected tropical

David Mabey et al.
Transactions of The Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
To maximise the likelihood of success, global health programmes need repeated, honest appraisal of their own weaknesses, with research undertaken to address any identified gaps. There is still much to be learned to optimise work against neglected tropical diseases. To facilitate that learning, a comprehensive research and development plan is required. Here, we discuss how such a plan might be developed.

Other

Water, Sanitation Major Keys to NTDs Control Elimination-- Experts

Asabe Shehu Yar’Adua Foundation
In Nigeria, medical science is focused on the control and management of Onchocerciasis, Lymphatic Filariasis, Schistosomiasis, Soil-transmitted Helminthiasis and Trachoma, five out of the many NTDs that Nigeria is known to be endemic for.

Illustrations by a local artist in Nigeria help health professionals understand their patients better

Relief Web
Illustrations by a local artist in Nigeria are helping health workers and policy makers understand what it’s really like to live with a neglected tropical disease (NTD). The illustrations have been drawn as part of a research project to improve services for those living with long term impacts of conditions such as lymphatic filariasis, buruli ulcer and leprosy. They include depictions of some of the social and mental health impacts of these conditions –including stigmatisation, loneliness and depression.

A voluntary use of insecticide treated nets can stop the vector transmission of Chagas disease

Cheol Yong Han, Habeeb Issa, Jan Rychtář, Dewey Taylor, and Nancy Umana
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
We construct a game-theoretic model of individual use of insecticide treated nets (ITNs) to prevent the vector transmission of Chagas disease within the household. Our results show that individuals behave rationally and weigh the risks of insect bites against the cost of the ITNs. The optimal voluntary use of ITNs results in predicted incidence rates that closely track the incidence rates in Latin America. This means that ITNs are effective and could be used to control the spread of the disease by relying on individual decisions rather than centralized policies.

An exploration of family quality of life in persons with leprosy, lymphatic filariasis and podoconiosis-related disabilities .

Anna T van't Noordende, Moges Wubie Aycheh, and Alice P Schippers
Transactions of The Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Family quality of life is an important area to address because neglected tropical diseases often affect the whole family. It is therefore important in order to provide appropriate support for persons affected and their family members. Efforts to improve the quality of life of families in which a family member is affected by leprosy, podoconiosis or LF should give priority to women and families with a smaller family size.

A cross-sectional study to evaluate depression and quality of life among patients with lymphoedema . . .

Oumer Ali et al.
Transactions of The Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
High levels of depression and low QOL were found among patients with lymphoedema due the three NTDs in Ethiopia.

Health for All Film Festival

World Health Organization
The WHO Health for All Film Festival invites independent film-makers, production companies, public institutions, NGOs, communities, students, and film schools from around the world to submit their original short films on health. The festival aims to recruit a new generation of film and video innovators to champion and promote global health issues. We are looking for short videos or animations that document good practices to improve diet and nutrition and make food safer. Submissions will be open from to 30 January 2021.

RESEARCH OPPORTUNITY: The New York Community Trust’s Heiser Program for Research in Leprosy

Nature Careers
The New York Community Trust’s Heiser Program invites proposals to support two-year Fellowships in leprosy research conducted by an early-career scientist. Grants totaling $700,000 will support three (3) to five (5) Fellowships to conduct research in one or more of the following areas and includes human experimental medicine studies to: 1) investigate mechanisms of nerve damage and reactions in patients with leprosy; 2) develop more effective chemoprophylaxis, immunoprophylaxis, and rapid bactericidal drugs to treat active disease; 3) understand the organism, and/or its pathogenicity to identify the immunological spectrum the bacilli can induce and/or to identify new drugs or drug targets.

COVID-19

Fighting Neglected Tropical Diseases in a COVID-19 World

Margaret Cameron Baker and Michael French
RTI International
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted us all as we attempt to stop the virus’ spread while also considering other needs for our health, education, and livelihoods. The global community working to fight neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) is also learning to adapt to these unprecedented times. Through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Act to End NTDs | East program, we are learning lessons about how to help countries continue progress against NTDs while protecting health workers and communities. To do so, many partners have published new resources to help countries safely restart NTD programs.

How the WASH initiative adapted to respond to COVID-19

Pelagie Boko-Collins
Sightsavers
Once it became clear that the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) activities we use to combat neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) could help stop the spread of COVID-19, we lost no time in putting a plan in place.

UPCOMING EVENTS

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

What role do partnerships play in NTDs and the roll out of the new Roadmap?
December 2, 2020, Webinar
Webinar of the World Health Organization

The leadership needed to stimulate the battle against NTDs
December 16, 2020, Webinar
Webinar of the World Health Organization