Anti-Trachoma School Clubs are a Game Changer in Ethiopia and Other NTD News

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 Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases or the Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center.

 

Photo: Anti-Trachoma School Clubs are a Game Changer in Ethiopia; Credit CBM/Hayduk

Lymphatic filariasis

A novel series of putative Brugia malayi histone demethylase inhibitors as potential anti-filarial drugs

Tamara Kreiss et al., PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

We have identified a novel series of compounds which appears to affect filarial parasite epigenetic regulatory mechanisms compromising parasite survival. These compounds provide both a pharmacological probe for the study of filarial parasite epigenetic mechanisms important for survival as well as providing a potential opportunity for anti-filarial drug development. In addition, these mechanisms are present in a variety of parasitic nematodes offering the opportunity for development of treatments for a wide variety of parasitic nematodes.

Mapping Spatial Variation and Impact of the National MDA Program on Lymphatic Filariasis Elimination in Ghana: An Initial Study

Efiba Vidda Senkyire Kwarteng et al., Frontiers in Tropical Diseases

The aim of this study was to map and explore the spatial variation and hotspots of LF infection among endemic communities and evaluate the impact of the MDA intervention program on its spatial pattern in Ghana. 

Onchocerciasis

The Prevalence of Onchocerciasis-Associated Epilepsy in Mundri West and East Counties, South Sudan: A Door-to-Door Survey

Stephen Raimon Jada et al., Pathogens

In conclusion, a high prevalence and incidence of epilepsy was observed in villages in Mundri. Urgent action is needed to prevent children from developing onchocerciasis-associated epilepsy by strengthening the local onchocerciasis-elimination programme.

The Long and Winding Road to Elimination

Lara Dahan, Global Institute for Disease Elimination

The development of an NTD Master Plan for Malawi is now well underway with expected delivery and dissemination expected in mid-2022. Thus far the learnings have been numerous, what started as a small-scale initiative to conduct transmission assessment in two districts has evolved into a multi-stakeholder process spanning across several development areas. I am particularly impressed by the adaptability resilience of program managers to manage uncertainty and the commitment of the partners to “leave no one” behind on the journey to elimination. If I’ve learned anything in my time working in global health it’s that successful elimination strategies are underpinned by the collaboration of passionate and committed individuals that make up disease elimination programs. 

Schistosomiasis

Prevalence, intensity and endemicity of intestinal schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiasis and its associated factors among school-aged children in Southern Ethiopia

Zerihun Zerdo et al., Scientific Reports

This study was aimed to assess the prevalence of STH/SCH infections, the intensity of infections, and factors associated with STH infection among school-aged children (SAC) in Uba Debretsehay and Dara Mallo districts (previously not known to be endemic for SCH) in southern Ethiopia, October to December 2019.

A simple new screening tool for diagnosing imported schistosomiasis

Silvia Roure et al., Public Health in Practice

A two-component process consisting of a scored patient consultation questionnaire followed by serological assay can be a suitable strategy for screening populations at high risk of schistosomiasis infection.

The identification of alternative oxidase in intermediate host snails of Schistosoma and its potential role in protecting Oncomelania hupensis against niclosamide-induced stress

Ni Jiang et al., Parasites & Vectors

AOX [alternative oxidase] was found in all the snail intermediate hosts of Schistosoma examined here. AOX was significantly activated in O. hupensis under niclosamide-induced stress, which led to a reduction in oxidative stress in the snail. The inhibition of AOX activity in snails can dramatically enhance the molluscicidal effect of niclosamide. A potential target for the development of an environmentally safe snail control method, which acts by inhibiting the activity of AOX, was identified in this study.

Schistosomiasis and Hookworm: Eastern Uganda’s Neglected Tropical Diseases

Uma Paithankar and Holly Lam, Pulitzer Center

The main obstacles to eradicating these helminth infections are misconceptions about the transmission of these infections; a lack of access to resources, which increases risk of infection and reinfection; and the stigma surrounding them.

In a bid to improve the immunity of pupils and protect them from chronic illnesses caused by worms, Nigeria's federal government, through the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, said it would deworm at least ten m

Yi-Ting Yeh et al., PLOS Pathogens

Overall, our data on the mechanical interplay between host VECs [vascular endothelial cells] and the schistosome egg improve our understanding of how this parasite manipulates its immediate environment to maintain disease transmission.

Female Genital Schistosomiasis Lesions Explored Using Circulating Anodic Antigen as an Indicator for Live Schistosoma Worms

Takalani Girly Nemungadi et al., Frontiers in Tropical Diseases

Grainy sandy patches and abnormal blood vessels are found more commonly in women who harbour live Schistosoma haematobium worms whilst homogenous yellow patches may indicate chronic tissue damage due to dead ova.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Prevalence of soil-transmitted helminths infections among preschool and school-age children in Ethiopia: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Legese Chelkeba et al., Global Health Research and Policy

Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Region, Amhara, and Oromia regions carry the highest-burden and are categorized to Moderate Risk Zones (MRZ) and therefore, requiring MDA once annually with Albendazole or Mebendazole. The prevalence of STHs decreased after MDA compared to before MDA, but the decline was not statistically significant.

FG To Deworm Ten Million Pupils Nationwide

Ekpali Saint, Prime Progress (Nigeria)

In a bid to improve the immunity of pupils and protect them from chronic illnesses caused by worms, Nigeria's federal government, through the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, said it would deworm at least ten million pupils.

Trachoma

Anti-Trachoma School Clubs are a Game Changer in Ethiopia

Christian Blind Mission

The CBM funded Amhara Trachoma Control Programme (ATCP) working with partner ORDA (Organisation for Rehabilitation and Development in Amhara) has set up 319 Anti-Trachoma School Clubs - an initiative in which school children actively participate in behaviour change exercises that have helped their families and communities fight the spread of Trachoma – a disease caused by the bacteria infection known as Chlamydia trachomatis. 

New project launched to fight blindness

Sammy Lutta, Nation (Kenya)

The three-year project dubbed ‘Vision for Kenya: Improving Eye Health Through Stronger Systems’ that will jointly be implemented by The Fred Hollows Foundation and Turkana County government aims at combating avoidable blindness through treatment, surgeries and eye examinations. . . Turkana Health Executive Jane Ajele said the project covering all the seven sub-counties will boost county government’s effort to eliminate trachoma in Turkana West and Loima, which are high burden sub-counties.

Downstream impacts: How local access to clean water is improving the lives of women and girls

CanWaCH

Operation Eyesight’s Zambian team rehabilitated a borehole located in the village of Kwanga, in Southern Zambia, in 2021. This rehabilitation has meant local access to an abundance of fresh water for the entire community. It’s one of 96 already drilled but non-functioning boreholes that the organization has rehabilitated in the past three years, along with the 106 boreholes drilled in Zambia’s Sinazongwe district, located in the country’s arid south.  This has helped eliminate trachoma from this district. Access to clean water has also brought a host of benefits across communities, including improved health outcomes, thriving local economies and increased opportunities for women and girls.   

Moving Under Sunshine: How Uganda and Kenya are Working to Eliminate a Blinding Disease Along Their Borders

Laura Cane, Amy Veinoglou and Matsiko Alex Rutagwabeyi, RTI

For the first time, the Governments of Uganda and Kenya are coordinating the distribution of trachoma medicines on both sides of the border. It’s a historic achievement that culminates after years of coordination between the two governments, supported by partners like USAID’s Act to End NTDs | East program, led by RTI International, and the International Trachoma Initiative, who manages the donation of medicines from Pfizer.

Cross-cutting

Hard-to-reach populations exist not only in remote areas but also cities

Arjun Poudel, The Kathmandu Post

Health workers say even elected officials do not comply with rules and thousands of city residents don’t trust health messages.

Ending ‘invisible diseases’ of ‘invisible people’: Germany’s contribution to the fight against Neglected Tropical Diseases

Mary White-Kaba, Healthy Developments: Germany Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development

We have a systemic and holistic approach, focused on overall health systems strengthening rather than on combatting individual NTDs. They are integrated into our One Health strategy, in which we give priority to prevention and synergies among different sectors such as WASH, agriculture and veterinary medicine.

Parasitomimetics: Can We Utilize Parasite-Derived Immunomodulatory Molecules for Interventions to Immunological Disorders?

Kazuki Nagai and Yasuyuki Goto, Frontiers in Immunology

In this review, we show how much progress has been made in the research on immunomodulation of host immunity by parasites. Here, we define the word ‘parasitomimetics’ as emulation of parasites’ immunomodulatory systems to solve immunological problems in humans and discuss potential applications of parasite-derived molecules to other diseases.

Characterising spatial patterns of neglected tropical disease transmission using integrated sero-surveillance in Northern Ghana

Kimberly M. Fornace et al., PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

This study demonstrates the potential of integrated serological surveillance to characterise spatial distributions of exposure to multiple pathogens in low transmission and elimination settings when the probability of detecting infections is low.

Other

Prevention of bacterial complications of scabies using mass drug administration: A population-based, before-after trial in Fiji, 2018–2020

Li Jun Thean et al., The Lancet Regional Health - Western Pacific

Mass drug administration for scabies control was associated with a substantial reduction in hospitalisations for skin and soft tissue infections.

Moderna Unveils Global Public Health Strategy

ISPE

Moderna has announced its global public health strategy consisting of four new initiatives aimed at advancing mRNA vaccines for the prevention of infectious diseases. First, the company is committing to advancing into clinical studies a portfolio of 15 vaccine programs targeting emerging or neglected infectious diseases by 2025, advancing vaccines that address current diseases of significant impact to low- and middle-income countries, and those that prepare for “Disease X.” . . .

Second, to further expand the potential impact of mRNA vaccines, Moderna will launch the new mRNA Access program which will open Moderna’s preclinical manufacturing capabilities and R&D expertise to global partners. Through the program, researchers at partnering institutions are invited to take advantage of Moderna’s mRNA platform to develop mRNA medicines for existing neglected diseases.

Target product profile for a gambiense human African trypanosomiasis test to identify individuals to receive widened treatment

World Health Organization

Target product profile for a gambiense human African trypanosomiasis test to identify individuals to receive widened treatment.

Eight countries support Abu Dhabi Declaration on Eradication of Guinea Worm disease

Hatem Mohamed, Emirates News Agency -WAM

High-ranking representatives of eight countries pledged to devote all resources needed to interrupt transmission of Guinea Worm disease and certify its eradication by 2030. Ministers and dignitaries endorsed the Abu Dhabi Declaration on the Eradication of Guinea Worm Disease to ensure the neglected tropical disease becomes the first human disease to be eradicated since smallpox in 1980. Assembling at the UAE’s presidential palace, Qasr Al Watan, leaders from Chad, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Angola, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Cameroon confirmed their commitment by signing the declaration.

UPCOMING EVENTS

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

Global Vector Control Response (GVCR) 2017-2030: Reducing the burden and threat of vector-borne diseases to achieve the NTD road map targets
April 5, 2022
World Health Organization

47th Annual Topics in Infection
June 17, 2022
RSTMH, Barts Health and UKHSA

2022 COR-NTD Annual Meeting
October 4-5, 2022
Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases

2022 ASTMH Annual Meeting
October 30-November 3, 2022
American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene 

21st International Leprosy Congress 2022
November 8-10, 2022