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World Health Organization Deems Elimination of Human African Trypanosomiasis by 2020 Achievable & 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.


Coverage of affected and at-risk populations through surveillance has improved, and elimination [of Human African Trypanosomiasis] as a public health problem may already have occurred in a number of countries.


Lymphatic filariasis

Zambezia launches mass campaign against lymphatic filariasis

Club of Mozambique
Mozambique’s health service in the central province of Zambezia on Monday launched a mass campaign to treat lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis, and intestinal parasites. The campaign will target over four million people of whom 53 per cent are children between the ages of five and fourteen.

Prospects of developing a prophylactic vaccine against human lymphatic filariasis

Vishal Khatri et al.
International Journal for Parasitology
Lymphatic filariasis (LF) affects 120 million people around the world and another 856 million people are at risk of acquiring the infection. Mass Drug Administration (MDA) spearheaded by the World Health Organization is the only current strategy to control this infection. . . An effective prophylactic vaccine combined with MDA has significant potential.

Lymphatic filariasis control in Tanzania: infection, disease perceptions and drug uptake patterns in an endemic community . . .

Yahya A. Derua, William N. Kisinza and Paul E. Simonsen
Parasites & Vectors
This study was designed to elucidate reasons for continued transmission of [lymphatic filariasis, or] LF in an endemic area of Tanga, northeastern Tanzania, where control activities based on [mass drug administration, or] MDA had been in place for eight years by the time of this study in 2012. . . Therefore, the focus of the present study was to improve the current vaccine formulation to obtain better protection in non-human primates.


Australian not-for-profit wins unprecedented approval for blindness drug

Latika Bourke
The Sydney Morning Herald
An Australian company has won unprecedented US approval for a new drug to treat the second most common preventable cause of blindness in the world. . . The World Health Organization has been calling for better treatments for river blindness for more than a decade, but because the medicine would be mostly used by those in poverty-stricken countries, there has been no financial incentive for drug companies to develop new treatments. . . Medicines Development for Global Health has been working for five years on the development of the drug and is now planning to develop moxidectin as a new treatment for scabies, a common problem in Indigenous communities.

Making a Case for Onchocerciasis Elimination Mapping: An Interview with Philip Downs and Charles Mackenzie

Molly Starke
With support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and working in close coordination with WHO, Sightsavers has launched a pilot project to test a new onchocerciasis elimination mapping protocol based on recommendations by the WHO Onchocerciasis Technical Advisory Subgroup (OTS) to be carried out initially in Ghana and Nigeria. I was able to sit down with the project’s principal investigator, Philip Downs, and technical advisor, Charles Mackenzie, to discuss the origins of the project and their goals for Phase II.

Diagnosing risk factors alongside mass drug administration using serial diagnostic tests—which test first?

Louise Dyson and T. Déirdre Hollingsworth
Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene
When tests are used in series to determine individual risk factors and infection status in a mass drug administration (MDA), the diagnostics, test order and subsequent treatment decisions (the testing algorithm) affect population-level treatment coverage and cost, but there is no existing framework for evaluating which algorithm optimizes any given outcome. We present a mathematical tool (with spreadsheet implementation) to analyze the effect of test ordering, illustrated using treatment for onchocerciasis in an area where high-burden Loa loa co-infections present a known risk factor.


Proteomic and immunomic analysis of Schistosoma mekongi egg proteins

Tipparat Thiangtrongjit et al.
Experimental Parasitology
Schistosomiasis remains a global health problem. In the Mekong river basin, approximately 80,000 people are at risk of infection by Schistosoma mekongi. . . Little is known regarding the egg proteins of S. mekongi, and so we applied immunoblotting and mass spectrometry-based proteomic approaches to study these proteins and their antigenicity. A total of 360 unique proteins were identified in S. mekongi eggs using proteomic analyses.

Female genital schistosomiasis: simultaneous screening of diseases can improve reproductive health

World Health Organization
The World Health Organization (WHO ) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) are expected to discuss how to combine the screening and testing for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), sexually-transmitted infections and cervical cancer with female genital schistosomiasis (FGS) to improve their detection and treatment. The discussions, during the 22nd International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam, Netherlands on 23–27 July 2018, follows an unpublished WHO/UNAIDS study that links FGS with serious infections such as HIV.

Using GPS Logging Devices to track water contact of schistosomiasis at risk-groups in Barombi Kotto, Cameroon

Sharon Ngang
In a bid to shed more light on the at-risk status of adult women and their [pre-school aged children, or] PSAC, COUNTDOWN researchers, including masters’ students from LSTM (Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine) and the Centre of Schistosomiasis & Parasitology (CSP) collaborated to measure and compare the water contact patterns of PSAC and their mothers at Barombi Kotto in 2017, by use of wearable global positioning system (GPS) data loggers.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Global “worming”: Climate change and its projected general impact on human helminth infections

Alexander J. Blum and Peter J. Hotez
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Nearly one-fifth of the way through the 21st century, humanity is confronted by the realities of a quickly changing climate: warmer temperatures, alterations in rainfall patterns and distributions, floods and droughts, and other extreme weather events. All of these changes are expected to intensify in the coming decades. In concert with other global trends relevant to populations affected by neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), including social determinants such as urbanization, conflict, human migrations, and economic shifts, climate change will play a significant role in determining the future viability of helminth species and the emergence or decline of human helminthiases.

Prevalence and distribution of soil-transmitted helminth infections in Nigerian children: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Solomon Ngutor Karshima
Infectious Diseases of Poverty
The present study employed the recommendations of the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) to determine the prevalence, distribution and RZs for STH infections among Nigerian children through a meta-analysis of data published between 1980 and 2015.

Ancylostoma ceylanicum Hookworm in Myanmar Refugees, Thailand, 2012–2015

Elise M. O'Connell et al.
Emerging Infectious Diseases
This investigation was part of a larger program involving refugees living in camps along the Myanmar–Thailand border that was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during 2012–2015. . . Fecal samples were collected at time point 1 (T1, during the required medical examination for US resettlement), T2 (before departing the refugee camp), and T3 (after US resettlement). All refugees were offered albendazole after fecal specimens were collected to treat presumptive infection with helminths.

Epidemiology of soil transmitted Helminth infections in the middle-belt of Ghana, Africa

Dennis Adu-Gyasi et al.
Parasite Epidemiology and Control
This study was carried out to describe the distribution of helminth and malaria parasite infections in the middle-belt of Ghana in sub-Saharan Africa where disease burden, including anaemia is rife and helminths are perceived to be significant contributors of the burden.


Image of Sightsavers’ work in Ghana wins photo competition

A picture taken by photographer Peter Nicholls to document Sightsavers’ work in Ghana has been awarded first prize by the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI). ITI launched the competition to mark its 20th anniversary and celebrate the work of ministries of health and their partners who are implementing the SAFE strategy (surgery, antibiotics, facial cleanliness and environmental improvement) to eliminate eye disease trachoma. The Humans Against Trachoma photo contest received 164 submissions that visually document the global journey to tackle trachoma.

Find out how initial trachoma treatments are distributed

Christian Today
For the first time, medicine for treating blinding trachoma are now being distributed to thousands of residents from distant sections of war-torn Yemen. . . An organization exceeding 4,000 mostly female aides went canvassing in the neighborhoods of 273 communities to make sure the treatment was delivered securely to the people who needed it. The missionaries that worked on the project were primarily female due to the reason that they attend homes to help women and children more easily, whereas men are usually not allowed due to local cultures.


Towards a science of global health delivery: A socio-anthropological framework to improve the effectiveness of NTD interventions

Kevin Louis Bardosh
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Over the last decade, implementation research and a science of global health delivery have emerged as important vehicles to improve the effectiveness of interventions. Efforts to control neglected tropical diseases (NTD) operate in challenging circumstances and with marginalized populations, making attention to context-specific details particularly relevant. In this paper, an accessible and actionable framework for understanding NTD intervention effectiveness, based on socio-anthropological research, is presented and its utility for program planning and monitoring and evaluation is outlined.

Africa on track to eliminate NTDs

Diane Mushimiyimana
The New Times (Rwanda)
Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) in Africa by 2020 is within reach thanks to efforts from governments, private sector players, civil society organisations and the World Health Organisation (WHO). This was observed by by Matshidiso Moeti, the Regional Director for Africa at WHO. She was speaking at the ongoing conference on eliminating NTDs in Kigali to review progress towards the elimination of the five most prevalent NTDs in Africa.

Eliminating Neglected Tropical Diseases in Africa

African Media Agency
he Expanded Special Project for Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases (ESPEN) convened national Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) Program Managers and partners at its first annual meeting to review the regional and national progress towards NTD elimination in Africa. With the clear objective to promote the need for coordination of country ownership of the integrated PC-NTD program, from the meeting shall stem key action points and recommendations to improve the implementation of annual plans and activities for the completion of the NTD Roadmap.

War on infectious diseases gets Sh5.3bn shot in the arm from WHO

IPP Media (Tanzania)
WHO Country Representative Adiele Onyenze said at a handover ceremony held in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the donation was [the World Health Organization's, or] WHO's continued commitment to the important goals of the government towards relieving the suffering of marginalized communities from the excruciating diseases.


WHO outlines criteria to assess elimination of sleeping sickness

Ashok Moloo
World Health Organization
The latest data released by the World Health Organization (WHO) confirm a sustained decrease in the number of new cases of human African trypanosomiasis (HAT, also known as sleeping sickness), firming up projections that the target to eliminate the disease as a public health problem by 2020 is achievable. “We have started to develop criteria that can be used to assess claims by countries for having eliminated the disease as a public health problem as well as the process of validation and formal recognition by WHO,” said Dr José Ramón Franco-Minguell, Medical Officer, WHO Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Ethical Considerations for Global Health Decision-Making . . . New Technologies for Trypansomiasis brucei gambiense

Maria W Merritt, C Simone Sutherland and Fabrizio Tediosi
Public Health Ethics
We sought to assess formally the extent to which different control and elimination strategies for human African trypanosomiasis Trypanosoma brucei gambiense (Gambiense HAT) would exacerbate or alleviate experiences of societal disadvantage that traditional economic evaluation does not take into account. Justice-enhanced cost-effectiveness analysis (JE-CEA) is a normative approach under development to address social justice considerations in public health decision-making alongside other types of analyses.

Socioeconomic risk markers of leprosy in high-burden countries: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Julia Moreira Pescarini et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Over 200,000 new cases of leprosy are detected each year, of which approximately 7% are associated with grade-2 disabilities (G2Ds). For achieving leprosy elimination, one of the main challenges will be targeting higher risk groups within endemic communities. Nevertheless, the socioeconomic risk markers of leprosy remain poorly understood.

At the Conference of States Parties

Pradeep Bagival
Leprosy Mission
The Leprosy Mission sent a delegation to the 11th Conference of States Parties (CoSP) to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD), held on 12-14 June in New York at UN HQ. . . The theme of the conference was ‘leaving no one behind through full implementation of the CRPD’. The CoSP became a platform for The Leprosy Mission to echo the voice of persons with leprosy-related disabilities, who are significant in number and have been hitherto excluded from the mainstream disability rights movement.

High mortality due to snakebites in French Guiana: Time has come to re-evaluate medical management protocols

Rémi Mutricy et al.
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
The snakebite mortality rate in French Guiana seems high and deserves attention. . . The aim of this editorial is to synthesize the information available and to make clear proposals to the French health authorities to improve the management of snakebites in French Guiana.

Scabies—An Ancient Disease With Unanswered Questions in Modern Times

Aileen Y. Chang and L. Claire Fuller
JAMA Dermatology
Scabies, believed to have been first described by Aristotle (384-322 bc) in ancient Greece, has been with humankind throughout the ages. During the past decade, there has been a resurgence of global interest in scabies owing to enhanced awareness of its detrimental effect on health. With the designation of "neglected tropical disease," the World Health Organization increases the spotlight on Sarcoptes scabiei and calls on organizations, governments, researchers, funders, and policymakers to respond.

A Second Chance: On a remote Melanesian island, a Spanish doctor has revived the 60-year-old quest to eradicate Yaws

Martin Enserink
Science Magazine
In a small, poor village 15,000 kilometers from his home, Oriol Mitjà jumped out of a white van one early May afternoon and started to look at people’s legs. “Any children with ulcers here?” he asked in Tok Pisin, the lingua franca of Papua New Guinea (PNG). “Can we see them?” The ulcers and splotches, or papilloma, are symptoms of a tropical skin disease called yaws, Mitjà’s professional and personal obsession.

Repackaging malaria to refresh & drive motivation towards elimination

Vera Unwin
Progress toward malaria elimination is slowing. . . If history’s taught us anything, it’s that when we take our foot off the pedal- especially regarding funding for control programs- malaria resurges with a vengeance. The 1st World Malaria Congress was held to confront this, drawing on the experiences of experts from across the field to help get that foot back down.

New drug for recurring malaria

Smitha Mundasad
BBC News
A new drug to treat malaria has been given the green light by authorities in the United States. The medicine is specifically for the recurring form of malaria - caused by the parasite plasmodium vivax - which makes 8.5 million people ill each year. . . Now the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States has given the seal of approval to tafenoquine, a drug that can flush the parasite out of its hiding place in the liver and stop people getting it again.

Establishing Mobile Outreach Teams (MOTs) for strengthening Active Case Detection with Mobile Populations in Vietnam 2016-2020

Malaria Matters
Mobile Migrant Populations (MMPs) are a key population for containing the spread of malaria in the border areas between Cambodia and Vietnam. Mobile Outreach Teams (MOTs) provide a potential approach to target malaria elimination activities for MMPs who may not be strongly supported by the regular village-based and clinic-based health services. This work describes the implementation of MOTs in Binh Phuoc and Dak Nong Provinces, which are high-risk regions along the Viet Nam-Cambodia border.

Mass Radio Campaign Saves Thousands of Child Lives in Africa

The New York Times
A mass radio campaign in Burkina Faso led to a significant rise in sick children getting medical attention and could prove one of the most cost-effective ways to save young lives in poor countries, researchers said on Tuesday. "What this study shows is that using mass media to drive people to health centres is actually more cost-effective than almost anything on earth in terms of saving children’s lives," said Roy Head, who co-led the study. "And that makes sense – it reaches millions of people at a time – but this is the first time it has been shown in a scientific trial."

Upcoming Events 

The WHO Training Package on Morbidity Management and Disability Prevention for Lymphatic Filariasis
July 26,  Webinar
Presentations will include a description of the global lymphatic filariasis (LF) situation and the LF elimination goals, a description of the training package and its content, as well as field experiences using the LF MMDP training package. This will be followed by a Q&A session.

Tropical Medicine Cases and Neurocysticercosis Guidelines
August 8,  Webinar
What will be covered? A mix of interesting tropical medicine cases as well as one hour on the newly released IDSA and ASTMH co-authored neurocysticercosis guidelines, interspersed with relevant cases. Presenters: Leading tropical medicine experts Susan McLellan, MD, MPH, FIDSA, FASTMH, University of Texas Medical Branch, and Christina Coyle, MD, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, will lead the discussion. Dr. Coyle is a co-author of the neurocysticercosis guidelines.

Public Health Informatics Conference
August 20-23,  Atlanta, Georgia
Registration for the 2018 Public Health Informatics Conference is now open! Don’t miss this opportunity to connect with colleagues and address the science of public health informatics, evolving public health systems, and public health’s role in our nation’s expanding health information technology infrastructure.

5th International Conference on Neglected Tropical & Infectious Diseases
August 29-30,  Boston, Massachussetts
Theme: Uniting all to overcome and fight against NTD's & infectious diseases for improved health protection.

78th FIP World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
September 2-6,  Glasgow, United Kingdom
The 2018 FIP congress in Glasgow, Scotland, invites pharmacy practitioners and pharmaceutical scientists from around the world to come together to consider ways of extending the role of pharmacists so that they play a full part in ensuring patients, and health systems, achieve full benefit from the medicines people take.

2018 ROP Africa Symposium
September 3-4,  Cape Town, South Africa
The International Paediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus Council and The Department of Pediatric Ophthalmology at The Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, Cape Town are proud to announce the 2018 ROP Africa Symposium.

IAPB Council of Members Meeting
September 15-16,  Hyderabad, India
The 2018 International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) Council of Members will be held in Hyderabad and our local host will be L.V. Prasad Eye Institute who are celebrating the 20th anniversary of ICARE (International Centre for Advancement of Rural Eye Care). We are expecting 400 delegates between the 15-16 September to celebrate the progress that has been made in India and across the South East Asia Region as well as looking ahead at the challenges that eye health faces not just in the region but across the globe.

RSTMH Annual Meeting 2018
September 19-20,  London, UK
The theme of [The Royal Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, or] RSTMH’s 2018 two-day Annual Meeting is intersections of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and the Sustainable Development Goals. We will bring together voices from different sectors, locations and disease areas to showcase the lesser-known problems caused by intersections, and their impact.

First International Podoconiosis Conference
September 23, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The theme for this is ‘Research to Implementation: A Call for Global Action’. With this invitation to register, we are also calling for abstracts from all those involved in podoconiosis research and implementation. In order to stimulate high levels of participation, the conference programme will include two sessions of research presentations, one of implementation presentations, and a poster display area. Abstracts for each of these will be selected by competitive process, and prizes will be awarded for the best research and the best implementation presentations. Travel awards will be available for a limited number of selected abstracts.

Access Challenge Universal Health Forum
September 24, New York, New York
The Universal Health Forum will celebrate the drive towards Universal Health Access in Africa. There will be high-level forums on maternal health, child health and malaria, NTDs and NCDs. There will also be an exhibition hall showcasing new technology, diagnostics, and treatments, and a dinner and awards ceremony celebrating leaders from across Africa.

NNN 2018 
September 24-26, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
We are delighted to announce the dates for the 9th NNN annual conference, subject to venue availability.

10th Euro-Global Conference on Infectious Diseases
September 27-29, Rome, Italy
Theme: Advancing in science and improving care to prevent infectious diseases.

International Conference on Migration Health
October 1-3, Rome, Italy
Hosted by the international Society of Travel Medicine.

5th Global Symposium on Health Systems Research
October 8-12,  Liverpool, United Kingdom
Theme: Advancing health systems for all in the SDG area.

World Sight Day
October 11, 2018
World Sight Day (WSD) is an annual day of awareness held on the second Thursday of October, to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment. This year, the "Call to Action" for World Sight Day is "Eye Care Everywhere."

World Health Summit
October 14-16, Berlin, Germany
Central topics for this year's meeting will include pandemic preparedness, sustainable development goals, and access to essential medicines.

Neglected Tropical Diseases Congress: The Future Challenges
October 15-17, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
The conference includes prompt presentations, special sessions, workshops, symposium, oral talks, poster presentations and exhibitions. We expect your kind presence at the conference which will discuss the recent emerging diseases, outbreaks, categories, epidemiology, diagnosis, therapeutics etc.

Collaborations Addressing Vulnerable Populations Forum
October 16-17, Herndon, Virginia
The Collaborations Addressing Vulnerable Populations (CAVP) Forum is a platform dedicated to the steps being made across the biomedical landscape to provide healthcare solutions to populations that represent an unmet medical need. The CAVP Forum will provide attendees with the opportunity to attend sessions from five unique tracks. We will highlight how drug repurposing can alleviate development costs, discuss different ways to ensure access to safe and cost-affective drugs, examine regulatory pathways and incentives targeting rare and neglected tropical diseases, and explore public–private partnerships that support the development of new treatments for vulnerable populations.

Tropical Dermatology
October 27 - 28, New Orleans, Louisiana
This 1.5-day course offers an overview of Tropical Dermatology, an essential component of tropical medicine. The course is designed for clinicians who are already familiar with clinical tropical medicine, either from working in tropical environments or from seeing patients returning from the tropics. Saturday’s session is devoted to cutaneous leishmaniais (the latest in the rapidly changing epidemiology, diagnosis and management). Skin conditions will be reviewed from the standpoint of diagnosing and treating individual patients – and from managing skin diseases on a population basis. 

Big Data and Genomics – A Practical Workshop on Sequence Analysis in Parasitology
October 28, New Orleans, Louisiana
This practical, hands-on workshop will introduce participants to publicly available sequence analysis tools. Using parasite genome and/or RNAseq data obtained from actual field or laboratory experiments, participants will learn analytical methods and workflows used to extract meaningful biological, evolutionary and/or epidemiological insights. Through live exercises led by experts in the field, participants will learn how to retrieve data from sequence repositories, run them through preconfigured or customized workflows, and visualize and explore the data using web-based tools.

The Global Health Impact of Urbanization and Megacities – Trends, Risk Management and Research Needs
October 28, New Orleans, Louisiana
This course will explore the changing worldwide landscape and global health risks with the exponential increase in urban population growth.  Beyond vector-borne diseases, the lack of barriers between animals, vectors, the environment and water supply increases the risk of other diseases such as leptospirosis, Ebola and plague. We urgently need to be prepared for new microbial transmission pathways in the urban environment that affect human health. 

67th Annual ASTMH Meeting 
October 28 - November 1, New Orleans, Louisiana
The ASTMH Annual Meeting draws tropical medicine and global health professionals representing academia, government, non-profits, philanthropy, NGOs, industry, military and private practice. The meeting is designed for researchers, professors, government and public health officials, military personnel, travel clinic physicians, practicing physicians in tropical medicine, students and all health care providers working in the fields of tropical medicine, hygiene and global health. 

7th Global Scabies Control Meeting
October 28, New Orleans, Louisiana
We are pleased to announce the date for the 7th Global Scabies Control meeting. The meeting will be held on Sunday 28th October in New Orleans, LA, USA. Please mark this in your diaries now! Further information and registration details will follow in coming months. 

1st International Caparica Congress on Leishmaniasis
October 29-31, Caparica, Portugal
This conference intends to gather researchers working in areas related to Leishmaniasis, from treatment to prevention. In fact, as leishmaniasis is slowly but constantly, increasing worldwide, this conference is addressed to show the latest research trends in this area. The idea is to push forward the battle against this persistent disease. 

Women Leaders in Global Health London 2018
November 8-9, London, United Kingdom
Celebrating women in global health leadership and cultivating the next generation of women leaders. 

APHA 2018 Annual Meeting and Expo
November 10-14, San Diego, California
Theme: "Creating the Healthiest Nation: Health Equity Now."  

Vector-Borne Diseases in the UK - Biennial Meeting, 2018
December 3-4, Norwich, United Kingdom
This meeting will be the fourth we have held on this topic, with previous meetings in 2012, 2014 and 2016, and like before we will bring together members of the major UK research groups who have an interest in vectors or vector-borne diseases which could be a threat to the UK; groups with wider but related areas of interest; members of key UK Government Departments and their Agencies; and representatives of European organisations with an interest in this topic. 

Women Deliver 2019 Conference 
June 3-6, 2019, Vancouver, Canada
The Women Deliver 2019 Conference – the world’s largest gathering on the health, rights, and wellbeing of women and girls – will serve as a fueling station for advocates working to achieve a more gender equal world. In the summer of 2019, over 6,000 world leaders, influencers, advocates, academics, activists, and journalists will flock to Vancouver with dreams of accelerating progress girls and women everywhere.