Call for experts for new sub-and expanded groups for WHO Diagnostic Technical Advisory Group 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: "Nurse attending to adolescent at EMABs Clinic," from Discovering alternative approaches to boost vaccine responses against Tuberculosis, Malaria, Bilharzia, MRC/UVRI and LSHTM Uganda Research Unit

Lymphatic filariasis

How We Overcame Elephantiasis, River Blindness, Others — Plateau Community

Yusufu Aminu Idegu, The Daily Trust (Nigeria)

The sight of men and women, especially septuagenarians and octogenarians, in Seri village, Kanke LGA of Plateau State will definitely give one the reality of the kind of health challenges the inhabitants of the village are faced with.

The need for an integrated, contextual, and holistic, minimum essential data collection tool for leprosy and lymphatic filariasis disability in India

Shyamala Anand, Annamma John and Rajni Kant Singh, Leprosy Review

A hybrid quantitative and qualitative minimum essential data tool was developed, integrating leprosy and LF disability related issues to holistically assess situations, capture lived experiences, and enable participation of persons with leprosy and LF disability in designing solutions for the issues which impact them most.


Vector control and entomological capacity for onchocerciasis elimination

Iñaki Tirados et al., Trends in Parasitology

Modelling studies have suggested that elimination of transmission (EoT) of onchocerciasis may not be achieved by relying solely on mass drug administration (MDA) of ivermectin, particularly in hyperendemic areas and in those areas where onchocerciasis and loiasis are coendemic. . . Study of host-seeking behaviour could inform the development of new control/monitoring tools against vectors. Control and monitoring tools, exploiting the natural attraction of hosts, could be implemented by communities and enhance country ownership. To ensure vector control capacity, well-trained, motivated, and appropriately funded local entomologists are essential to lead vector research and entomological operations.


“Female genital schistosomiasis is a sexually transmitted disease”: Gaps in healthcare workers’ knowledge about female genital schistosomiasis in Tanzania

Humphrey D. Mazigo et al., PLOS Global Public Health

Our findings show critical gaps in both the knowledge of healthcare workers to manage Female Genital Schistosomiasis and in the capacity of healthcare facilities to manage it. To fill these gaps, two urgent needs must be fulfilled: first, training healthcare workers (particularly those working in schistosomiasis-endemic settings) on Female Genital Schistosomiasis, and second, stocking healthcare facilities with necessary medical equipment and supplies for managing this disease.

Discovering alternative approaches to boost vaccine responses against Tuberculosis, Malaria, Bilharzia

MRC/UVRI and LSHTM Uganda Research Unit

The POPVAC programme is a set of three-linked clinical trials with an overarching goal to understand population differences in vaccine responses in order to identify strategies through which vaccine effectiveness can be optimized for the low-income, tropical settings where they are especially needed. Trial one aims to determine the effect of intensive treatment for schistosomiasis on response to vaccines among island adolescents.

Schistosomiasis at the Crossroad to Elimination: Review of Eclipsed Research with Emphasis on the Post-Transmission Agenda

Michal Giboda, Robert Bergquist and Jürg Utzinger, Tropical Medicine Infectious Disease

With current schistosomiasis control efforts gradually progressing to elimination, there is a need to focus on post-transmission schistosomiasis, which not only refers to remaining lesions from previous infections, but also accounts for the potential presence of surviving worms after treatment. This issue is particularly salient for migrants from endemic to non-endemic countries and should be kept in mind for returning expatriates from schistosomiasis-endemic countries. 

Infection History and Current Coinfection With Schistosoma mansoni Decreases Plasmodium Species Intensities in Preschool Children in Uganda

Daniel McDowell, Lisa Hurt, Narcis B Kabatereine, John Russell Stothard, and Joanne Lello, The Journal of Infectious Diseases

Malaria–schistosomiasis coinfections are common in sub-Saharan Africa but studies present equivocal results regarding the interspecific relationships between these parasites. Through mixed-model analyses of a dataset of Ugandan preschool children, we explore how current coinfection and prior infection with either Schistosoma mansoni or Plasmodium species alter subsequent Plasmodium intensity, Plasmodium risk, and S mansoni risk.

Comparative mitogenomics of freshwater snails of the genus Bulinus, obligatory vectors of Schistosoma haematobium, causative agent of human urogenital schistosomiasis

Si-Ming Zhang, Lijing Bu, Lijun Lu, Caitlin Babbitt, Coen M. Adema and Eric S. Loker, Scientific Reports

We provide sequence data for potential development of genetic markers for specific or intraspecific Bulinus studies, help elucidate the relationships among Bulinus species, and suggest ways in which mitogenomes may help understand the complex interactions between Schistosoma and Bulinus snails and their relatives.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Sensitivity Analysis of a Transmission Interruption Model for the Soil-Transmitted Helminth Infections in Kenya

Collins Okoyo, Nelson Onyango, Idah Orowe, Charles Mwandawiro and Graham Medley, Frontiers in Public Health

The sensitivity analysis (SA) results demonstrated that the model outcome (STH worm burden elimination in the human host) was significantly sensitive to some key parameter groupings: combined effect of improved water source and sanitation (ϕ), rounds of treatment offered (τ), efficacy of the drug used during treatment (h), proportion of the adult population treated (ga: akin to community-wide treatment), mortality rate of the mature worms in the human host (μ), and the strength of the -dependence of worm egg production (γ). For STH control programmes to effectively reach the endgame (STH elimination in the entire community), these key parameter groupings need to be targeted since together they contribute to a strategic public health intervention.

Worms and bugs of the gut: the search for diagnostic signatures using barcoding, and metagenomics–metabolomics

Marina Papaiakovou, D. Timothy J. Littlewood, Stephen R. Doyle, Robin B. Gasser and Cinzia Cantacessi, Parasites & Vectors

In this article, we: (i) assess the strengths and limitations of existing methods applied to the diagnosis of GI helminth infections of humans and livestock; (ii) examine high-throughput sequencing approaches, such as targeted molecular barcoding and shotgun sequencing, as tools to define the taxonomic composition of helminth infections; and (iii) discuss the current understanding of the interactions between helminths and microbiota in the host gut. Stool-based diagnostics are likely to serve as an important tool well into the future; improved diagnostics of helminths and their environment in the gut may assist the identification of biomarkers with the potential to define the health/disease status of individuals and populations, and to identify existing or emerging anthelmintic resistance.


Prevalence of Trachoma following Implementation of the SAFE Strategy in Three Local Government Areas of Taraba State, North Eastern Nigeria

Francisca Olamiju et al., Ophthalmic Epidemiology

In 2019–2020, one round of antibiotic mass drug administration (MDA) was implemented for trachoma elimination purposes in Donga, Gashaka, and Ussa local government areas (LGAs) of Taraba State, Nigeria, following baseline surveys in 2009 (Donga and Gashaka) and 2013–2014 (Ussa). Here, trachoma prevalence post-MDA in these three LGAs is reported.

Post-Validation Survey in Two Districts of Morocco after the Elimination of Trachoma as a Public Health Problem

Jaouad Hammou et al., The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

The TF data support an absence of active trachoma in the two districts examined. However, seroprevalence and SCR in younger people were higher in Agdez than Boumalene Dades, showing that there can be differences in serology metrics in areas with similar TF prevalence. Data will be included in multicountry analyses to better understand potential thresholds for serological surveillance in trachoma.

Blog: The road to CHOGM – Commonwealth countries discuss efforts to accelerate malaria and trachoma elimination

Janneth Mghamba, The Commonwealth

As we look towards CHOGM in June where Commonwealth Heads of Government will renew commitments set in 2018 to halve malaria by 2023 and accelerate access to quality eye care for all by 2020, seven countries convened earlier this month to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on malaria and trachoma programmes.


The movement to end Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) has been defined by partnerships

Shahid Akhter, ETHealthWorld (India)

Shahid Akhter, editor, ETHealthworld, spoke to Thoko Elphick-Pooley, Director, Uniting to Combat NTDs, to know more about the current status of NTDs and the efforts underway to meet the challenges.

Unlocking opportunities for One Health in Neglected Tropical Diseases

Gabrielle Laing, The Royal Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene

A new report out from WHO’s Neglected Tropical Diseases team tries to help those across human, animal and environment health work together to unlock new avenues for health. Dr Gabrielle Laing BVSc PhD MRCVS, Policy Advisor for One Health at the SCI Foundation, takes a look.

WHO Diagnostic Technical Advisory Group sub-group experts needed

Ashok Moloo, World Health Organization

Those interested should possess demonstrated understanding of the specific disease area, neglected tropical diseases in general, health systems, laboratory capacity and/or current advances in diagnostics technologies, depending on the sub-group (or main DTAG) for which the application is made.

The DTAG sub-groups being envisaged and expanded are as follows:

  1. Laboratory Capacity and Networking for NTDs
  2. Trachoma
  3. Schistosomiasis, with a specialist interest in Female Genital Schistosomiasis
  4. Soil-transmitted helminthiases, with a specialist interest in strongyloidiasis
  5. Onchocerciasis, with a specialist interest in PCR

Closing date for applications: (extended to): 15 April 2022


Health literacy among self-help leprosy group members reduces stereotype endorsement and stigma-related harm in rural Nepal

Orla T. Muldoon et al., Health and Social Care in the Community

Specifically, self- help group belonging predicted improvements in health literacy, leading to reduced endorsement of negative stereotypes and thus less stigma- related harm among people affected by leprosy. The study offers promising evidence that group-based interventions, which support health education, can reduce the harmful impact of stigma in very challenging contexts.

“At the hospital they do not treat venom from snakebites”: A qualitative assessment of health seeking perspectives and experiences among snakebite victims in Rwanda

Janna M.Schurer et al., Toxicon X

Snakebite victims engage in unsafe First Aid practices such as burning, cutting, sucking the wound. Treatment outcomes of other victims influenced decisions to seek traditional medicine or hospital care. Livestock bitten by snakes were treated by veterinarians or traditional healers, or received no care.

Initiatives to address leprosy as a human rights issue through the mandate of UN Special Rapporteur: Achievements and challenges

Takahiro Nanri, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

In 2017, the Human Rights Council appointed a Special Rapporteur on leprosy to investigate the extent to which the principles and guidelines have been implemented, and her term was extended for a further 3 years in 2020. Considering the proper implementation of the principles and guidelines to be key to eliminating the discrimination that persons affected by leprosy and their families face in various parts of the world, this paper looks at the contribution the Special Rapporteur can make. Based on an assessment of her activities to date, it concludes that the Special Rapporteur has actively worked to build networks with persons affected by leprosy and related organizations and gain their trust, but has faced challenges in organizing official country visits.

An ODE model of yaws elimination in Lihir Island, Papua New Guinea

Presley Kimball, Jacob Levenson, Amy Moore, Jan Rychtar and Dewey Taylor, PeerJ

The World Health Organization strategy mandates an initial round of total community treatment (TCT) with single-dose azithromycin followed either by further TCT or by total targeted treatment (TTT), an active case-finding and treatment of cases and their contacts. We develop the compartmental ODE model of yaws transmission and treatment for these scenarios. We solve for disease-free and endemic equilibria and also perform the stability analysis. We calibrate the model and validate its predictions on the data from Lihir Island in Papua New Guinea. We demonstrate that TTT strategy is efficient in preventing outbreaks but, due to the presence of asymptomatic latent cases, TTT will not eliminate yaws within a reasonable time frame. To achieve the 2030 eradication target, TCT should be applied instead.

Yaws recurrence in children at continued risk of infection

Camila G. Beiras et al., PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

Our results confirm the need for active follow-up of yaws patients after treatment, particularly children and individuals with a history of recurrence.

COVID-19: an opportunity of systematic integration for Chagas disease. Example of a community-based approach within the Bolivian population in Barcelona

Jordi Gómez i Prat et al., BMC Infectious Diseases

This research addresses CD [Chagas Disease] and its co-infection, through an innovative way, an opportunity of systematic integration, during the COVID-19 pandemic.


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

World Chagas Disease Day 2022
April 19, 2022

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