Celebrating World NTD Day, Investing in Young African Researchers 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: Dieudonné Roland Eloundou Ombede - Snail sampling as part of Ph.D. project, part of Stories from awardees of the African Researchers' Small Grants Program (SGP)

Lymphatic filariasis

Endemicity of Lymphatic Filariasis : An Experience from Field Monitoring

Sushree Nibedita Panda, PLOS Blogs

During my recent external monitoring work for World Health Organization-National Polio Surveillance Project unit Kalahandi, I monitored and validated Lymphatic Filarial cases in the district of Balangir, Odisha.

Let us aim to eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis by 2027, three years ahead of global target: Mandaviya

India Gazette

Union Health Minister, Mansukh Mandaviya on Friday chaired the national symposium on India's roadmap to eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) at Vigyan Bhawan and said that the government is aiming to eliminate the disease by 2027, three years ahead of the global target.


Medicines sent to Region 8 to fight schistosomiasis

Sarwell Meniano, Philippines News Agency

The national government has allocated at least 2.47 million praziquantel tablets for Eastern Visayas to combat schistosomiasis, a disease endemic in the region. Agnes Cuayzon, DOH regional schistosomiasis program manager, said there was no supply of the medicine for months last year but is now available in several local government units of the region.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) Validated Regulatory Application for Arpraziquantel, a Potential Treatment for Schistosomiasis in Preschool-Aged Children

PR Newswire

With the regulatory filing stage complete, the Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium is preparing for potential inclusion of arpraziquantel in the World Health Organization list of prequalified and essential medicines. It is exploring new mechanisms for providing equitable and sustainable access to arpraziquantel, once approved. Through its dedicated implementation research program, ADOPT, the Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium is collecting data and best practices that will inform future large-scale delivery programs in endemic countries The aim is to start the launch phase in 2024 for product availability on a not-for-profit basis, initially in sub-Saharan African countries.

Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry for differential identification of adult Schistosoma worms

Jurena Christiane Ebersbach et al., Parasites & Vectors

MALDI-TOF MS [Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight  mass spectrometry] can reliably distinguish adult S. mansoni from S. japonicum.

Burden and risk factors for Schistosoma mansoni infection among primary school children: A quantitative school-based cross-sectional survey in Busega district, Northern Tanzania

George Ogweno et al., PLOS One

There was a high prevalence of Smansoni infection among school-age children in the Busega district. The presence of the infected Biomphalaria sudanica in the area documents the persistent transmission of the disease, favored by low knowledge and negative attitudes among school-aged children. Hence, the need for multi-approach intervention for schistosomiasis prevention and elimination.

Reducing Schistosomiasis, Parasitic Diseases By Curbing Poverty

Chioma Umeha, The Daily Independent (Nigeria)

He [Dr. Nse Akpan} stressed, “NTDs promote poverty and negatively impact economic growth, social development and poverty reduction initiatives. . . If Nigeria must attain the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) experts have said that it is crucial for all State governments to take ownership of NTDs eradication programmes to eliminate the deadly menace in the country."

Limited efficacy of repeated praziquantel treatment in Schistosoma mansoni infections as revealed by highly accurate diagnostics, PCR and UCP-LF CAA (RePST trial)

Pytsje T. Hoekstra et al., PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

The efficacy of (repeated) PZQ treatment was overestimated when using egg-based diagnostics (i.e. KK and PCR). Quantitative worm-based diagnostics (i.e. POC-CCA and UCP-LF CAA) revealed that active Schistosoma infections are still present despite multiple treatments. These results stress the need for using accurate diagnostic tools to monitor different PZQ treatment strategies, in particular when moving toward elimination of schistosomiasis.

GPS-based fine-scale mapping surveys for schistosomiasis assessment: a practical introduction and documentation of field implementation

Lydia Trippler et al., Infectious Diseases of Poverty

The fine-scale mapping approach using a combination of ODK [open data kit] and an offline navigation application installed on tablet computers allows a very precise identification of housing structures. Dropouts due to non-residential housing structures, absence, non-participation and lack of urine need to be considered in survey designs. Our findings can guide the planning and implementation of future household-based mapping or longitudinal surveys and thus support micro-targeting and follow-up of interventions for schistosomiasis control and elimination in remote areas.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Soil-transmitted helminth surveillance in Benin: A mixed-methods analysis of factors influencing non-participation in longitudinal surveillance activities

Emma Murphy et al., PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

Optimizing STH surveillance will require that programs reimagine STH surveillance activities to address community concerns and ensure that no subpopulations are inadvertently excluded from surveillance data.

Efficacy of Single-Dose Albendazole for the Treatment of Soil-Transmitted Helminthic Infections among School Children in Rwanda—A Prospective Cohort Study

Joseph Kabatende et al., Pharmaceuticals

Single-dose albendazole used in the MDA program is efficacious for the treatment and control for hookworms and Ascaris lumbricoides infections but not effective for Trichirus trichiura. An alternative treatment regimen is urgently needed to prevent, control, and eliminate STH as a public health problem.

“Uninformative research” is the global health crisis you’ve never heard of

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The Gates Foundation has launched a program called Design, Analyze, Communicate (DAC) to understand this challenge and begin to address it. But before we delve into DAC and its work, one piece of context is critical: Clinical trials can be exceedingly complex.

Consider an ongoing clinical trial called DeWorm3 that our foundation supports with grant funding. It asks a simple question: Is it possible to eliminate the transmission of parasitic worms (called soil-transmitted helminths)? The question may be simple, but answering it in an informative way is anything but, so DeWorm3 was designed to run a gauntlet of potential challenges.

Prevalence of Geohelminthic Infection and Its Risk Factors Among School Children in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India

Puhalenthi K et al., Cureus

The prevalence of geohelminthic infestations among schoolchildren in this study was 9.7%. . .The factors found to be significantly associated with geohelminthic infestation after doing multivariate analysis were children belonging to government schools, residing in rural areas, and using piped water as a source of drinking water.


Active Trachoma Prevalence and Related Variables among Children in a Pastoralist Community in Southern Ethiopia in 2021: A Community-Based Cross-Sectional Study

Dedefo Tuke, Edao Etu and Endale Shalemo, The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

The study’s findings revealed that about one-third of the children had clinical signs of trachoma. Research indicates that trachoma is a major concern for children in rural communities. Therefore, attention to trachoma control with antibiotics, facial hygiene, and environmental sanitation is strongly encouraged.

Perceptions of ophthalmologists on the impact of trachoma in Egypt: a mixed-methods, nationwide survey

Yassin Nayel, Matilda Taylor, Ahmed S. Montasser, Mohamed Elsherif and Mostafa M. Diab, BMC Infectious Diseases

Ophthalmologists’ experiences with trachoma in Egypt differed based on practice setting, years in practice, and location, and the overall perception of the impact of the disease remains low. However, there was widespread agreement that trachoma is present in communities across the country. Practitioners in rural areas and in the public sector shared a disproportionate burden of the trachoma caseload. The perspectives of such ophthalmologists must be emphasized in decision-making related to trachoma interventions.


With Gates Foundation Backing, a Health Tech Company Aims to Speed Diagnosis of Some Neglected Tropical Diseases

Omnia Education

As it looks to curb the spread of infectious diseases, the Gates Foundation is lending its support to an effort to use artificial intelligence to make it easier for health providers in India and Nigeria to quickly diagnose certain conditions. The funding will support New York-based clinical decision support company VisualDx, which began as a collection of images to allow non-dermatologists to better identify skin conditions. The company now offers machine learning-powered apps and software platforms to help health care workers quickly and accurately diagnose patients. . . The company’s hope is that their tool can help health care workers in places where there aren’t enough specialists.

Signing of Record of Discussions with Türkiye for a Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS): Supporting Research into Strengthening the Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases

Japan International Cooperation Agency

On December 28, 2022 the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a Record of Discussions with the Government of the Republic of Türkiye for the Project for One Health Approach to Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases with Special Attention on Sand fly and Mosquito Borne Infections, Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS). This project, in collaboration with Ege University and the University of Tokyo, conducts research on the transmission of neglected tropical diseases, especially arthropod-borne diseases (ABDs) such as leishmaniasis [2] and others, based in the provinces of Ankara and Izmir. The main objectives of the project are to elucidate the transmission cycle of ABDs, develop risk maps, establish new detection technologies, and demonstrate new reservoir and vector control technologies.

Quiz: Test your knowledge of NTD innovation

Hannah Sachs-Wetstone, Global Health Technologies Coalition

How much do you know about combating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)? In recognition of World NTD Day on January 30, GHTC is testing our readers' knowledge of NTD innovation.

World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day 2023

World Health Organization

The COVID-19 pandemic and a changing funding landscape, as well as an unpredictable international context, pose challenges for the NTD community’s work. Despite these challenges, 47 countries had eliminated at least one NTD by the end of 2022, and NTD programmes performed better in 2022 than in 2021. Progress towards the 2030 targets must be kept on track by fostering innovative operations and sustainable financing.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory response to combat neglected tropical diseases (NTDs): A review

Sanjana Mukherjee, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

This review provides a clear overview of the various regulatory pathways and programs employed by the FDA to increase the availability of NTD drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics. The review assesses the available information on various regulatory considerations and their impact on NTD product development as a first step in estimating the importance of such programs. Next, findings related to currently approved NTD products through these programs are discussed. Lastly, gaps in NTD R&D are identified and suggestions on how to address these are presented.

Novel paradigm of mosquito-borne disease control based on self-powered strategy

Junhao Wang and Zhiyuan Zhu, Frontiers in Public Health

Here, we envisage a self-powered strategy for sterilization and infection control based on TENG structure, which can be used for mosquito eradication and sterilization to control the number of mosquitoes and the pathogens they transmit, thereby reducing the risk of disease transmission. This strategy will open up a new avenue for self-powered supply system in infectious disease control and may promote family health care and public health.

More countries eliminate neglected tropical diseases but investments key to sustain progress

World Health Organization

Today, on World Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) Day, WHO releases a new progress report, entitled “Global report on neglected tropical diseases 2023” highlighting the progress and challenges in delivering NTD care worldwide, against a backdrop of COVID-19-related disruptions.

Ending Neglected Diseases? One West African Country Has Done This Four Times.

USAID Medium

The Government of Togo, through the Ministry of Health, Public Hygiene and Universal Access to Care, has fought NTDs using proven interventions — administering treatments to communities at-risk, consolidating health services to improve efficiencies, establishing national expert advisory committees, and conducting evaluations to produce data that guides decision-making. Using this concentrated approach, combined with more than two decades of sustained political commitment by Togo’s government and community leaders, the country was able to eliminate four NTDs in a short time span: guinea worm (2011), lymphatic filariasis (2017), sleeping sickness (2020) and most recently, trachoma (2022).


Temporal variability of Loa loa microfilaraemia

Jérémy T. Campillo et al., Parasites & Vectors

Although at the community level, microfilaria density is very stable, we highlight some individuals with large variations in both the short and long term, which may have an important impact on onchocerciasis control campaigns and longitudinal studies evaluating the impact of an intervention on L. loa microfilaraemia.

‘The silent disease’: Chagas is a killer. Now carriers want their voices heard

Sarah Johnson, The Guardian

The parasite-borne disease is classed as ‘neglected’ yet causes 12,000 deaths a year, mostly in Latin America. 

Kissing Bug Confidential: Priorities for Managing Chagas Disease

Claire Panosian Dunavan, MedPage Today

In 2020, Beatty and a colleague from Arizona published a provocative article entitled "Autochthonous Chagas Disease in the United States: How Are People Getting Infected?" referencing nearly 100 T. cruzi infections contracted in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, and Texas, among other states. Newer modeling suggests that the U.S. could have as many as 10,000 people who acquired their infections within our borders.

New chair of TDR’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee: Professor Margaret Gyapong

Garry Aslanyan, TDR

TDR is pleased to announce that Professor Margaret Gyapong has taken over the role of Chair of STAC from Professor Charles Mgone from January 2023.

The Falcon Awards for Disease Elimination: The Climate Edit


After a successful first iteration of the Falcon Awards for Disease Elimination, where five winners from endemic countries were awarded up to $200,000 to lead projects tackling polio, malaria, and NTDs in their respective communities, The Global Institute for Disease Elimination (GLIDE) is launching a second iteration of the  awards in January 2023, the Falcon Awards for Disease Elimination – The Climate Edit – a global initiative which aims to expand the evidence base regarding the intersection of disease elimination and climate. Through the awards, GLIDE will provide catalytic support to researchers to examine new and under-explored areas of the climate and infectious disease nexus.

Stories from awardees of the African Researchers' Small Grants Program (SGP)

African Research Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases

The following stories relay the experiences of researchers across the African continent and how the awardees of the ARNTD Small Grants Program utilized their awards to combat NTDs in their own local contexts.

Eliminating neglected diseases in Africa: there are good reasons for hope

Monique Wasunna, Malaysia Sun

Those infected with visceral leishmaniasis suffer from fever, weight loss and intense fatigue. . .But in September 2022, a shorter, more effective new treatment was announced. Developed with several partners, including Medecins Sans Frontières, this treatment partially removes the need for daily injections. In June, the World Health Organization also recommended an improved treatment specifically for people who are co-infected with HIV and visceral leishmaniasis. . .All these advances give me hope. These extraordinary efforts will eventually pay off. I am convinced that, in a not-so-distant future, people will stop dying from leishmaniasis, and will be safely cured thanks to simple oral drugs.

'Cutaneous Leishmaniasis' Cases On Rise In Balochistan:MSF

Muhammad Irfan, Urdu Point

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders, is witnessing a significant increase of cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) cases in Quetta, Balochistan.