Leverage the power of ritual to improve community health worker efficacy 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: Pandemic restrictions provide insights into how human movement affects vector-borne diseases, BugBitten; Made in BioRender


Big Pharma, the World Health Organization, and the co-constitution of international policies against river blindness

Auriane Guilbaud, Public and Private Welfare in Modern Europe

The chapter shows how, starting from the 1970s, cooperation between the two contributed not only to the creation of a drug donation program (the Mectizan Donation Program) but also to the forging of a new model for international health policies on neglected diseases. It adopts a socio-historical approach to develop the ‘thick description’ of a single case study and the tracking of institutional processes and social interactions. 

2022 mass drug administration against neglected tropical diseases launched

News Ghana

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) is set to administer drugs to over 13 million people in 81 districts under the Non-Tropical Disease (NTDs) Programme. According to the GHS, this formed part of processes to eliminate Onchocerciasis (oncho) and Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) by 2030. The exercise would be held in 77 Oncho endemic districts targeted at 12.6 million people and four LF endemic districts where an estimated 440,000 people are expected to receive the drug.

Onchocerca volvulus-specific antibody and cellular responses in onchocerciasis patients treated annually with ivermectin for 30 years and exposed to parasite transmission in central Togo

Saskia I. Johanns et al., PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

We examined the changes of Ovolvulus parasite-specific antibody and cellular immune responsiveness in patients treated annually with ivermectin for 30 years. Treatment prevented patent Ovolvulus infections, whilst parasite antigen-specific cytokine and chemokine responses increased but O.volvulus-specific antibody responses declined. Such decreased antibody levels could weaken antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxic responses to infective and tissue-dwelling Ovolvulus larvae. Strengthened monocyte attracting and activation regulated chemokine responses could enhance effector cell migration and activation against larval stages of O.volvulus, possibly also eliciting resistance to further parasite infections.


Schistoscope: An Automated Microscope with Artificial Intelligence for Detection of Schistosoma haematobium Eggs in Resource-Limited Settings

Prosper Oyibo et al., Micromachines

In this paper, we present a low-cost automated digital microscope—the Schistoscope—which is capable of automatic focusing and scanning regions of interest in prepared microscope slides, and automatic detection of Schistosoma haematobium eggs in captured images. . . .The experiments and results presented in this paper collectively illustrate the robustness, stability, and optical performance of the device, making it suitable for use in the monitoring and evaluation of schistosomiasis control programs in endemic settings.

Comparing the accuracy of two diagnostic methods for detection of light Schistosoma haematobium infection in an elimination setting in Wolaita Zone, South Western Ethiopia

Hussein Mohammed et al., PLOS One

The present study revealed very low prevalence and light intensity of Shaematobium infections. The study also highlights that the dipstick test is considered a useful adjunct diagnostic tool for population-based control of urogenital schistosomiasis.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Community and individual level determinants and spatial distribution of deworming among preschool age children in Ethiopia: spatial and multi-level analysis

Daniel Gashaneh Belay et al., BMC Public Health

These findings highlight that, the Ministry of Health (MOH) Ethiopia should prepare a regular campaign for deworming programs for preschool age children. Mass media promotion of deworming should be strengthened. The Ministry of Education should work to strengthen women’s education, household and community media exposure. Prior attention should be given to low deworming regions such as Afar, Somalia, Diredewa, and Harari regions.

Prevalence of Strongyloides stercoralis infection and associated clinical symptoms among schoolchildren living in different altitudes of Amhara National Regional State, northwest Ethiopia

Tadesse Hailu Jember et al., PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

Prevalence of Sstercoralis infection was high and varied across different altitudes in Amhara Region. Some clinical syndromes were found to be significantly associated with Sstercoralis infection. Therefore, proper diagnosis and preventive strategies against Sstercoralis infection are highly recommended to be devised and implemented in Amhara Region.


The Gambia has eliminated trachoma as a public health problem: Challenges and successes

Agatha Aboe et al., PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

In 1986, a national survey of blindness and low vision in The Gambia found that 17 per cent of blindness was caused by trachoma in the form of corneal opacity due to trichiasis. At this time, eye health services delivered by a trained eye health were limited to the Greater Banjul area, meaning people in remote locations were frequently left behind. This changed with the coordination of partners and donors strengthening the knowledge base of health workers on trachoma preventative measures and the capacity of ophthalmic nurses to deliver trichiasis surgical support to all trachoma-endemic communities. Final epidemiological surveys conducted in 2019 confirmed that there was sufficient evidence to show that elimination thresholds had been achieved all endemic areas prompting the formal submission of the country’s elimination dossier to the WHO.

Prevalence of active trachoma and associated factors among school age children in Debre Tabor Town, Northwest Ethiopia, 2019: a community based cross-sectional study

Alebachew Shimelash et al., Italian Journal of Pediatrics

Active trachoma among school-age children was high compared to the WHO’s definition of trachoma as a public health problem. A family size of four, poor solid waste management, an unimproved type of latrine, an unclean child's face, and not using soap when washing one's face were all significant predictors of active trachoma. Promotion of behavioral determinants through health education programs like keeping facial cleanliness by washing their child’s face with soap, managing solid waste properly, and installing improved latrines to reduce active trachoma needs to be in place.


“Using the same hand”: The complex local perceptions of integrated one health based interventions in East Africa

Alicia Davis et al., PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

An interdisciplinary One Health approach that incorporates qualitative social science can provide key insights into complex local perceptions for integrated health service delivery for STH and human rabies. This includes providing insights into how interventions can be improved while acknowledging and addressing critical issues around awareness, participation and underlying health disparities in remote pastoralist communities.

Two-stage lot quality assurance sampling framework for monitoring and evaluation of neglected tropical diseases, allowing for imperfect diagnostics and spatial heterogeneity

Adama Kazienga, Luc E. Coffeng, Sake J. de Vlas and Bruno Levecke, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

Our framework provides a means to assess and update M&E guidelines and guide product development choices for NTD. Using soil-transmitted helminths as a case study, we show that current M&E guidelines may severely fall short, particularly in low-endemic and post-control settings. Furthermore, specificity rather than sensitivity is a critical parameter to consider. When the geographical distribution of an NTD within a district is highly heterogeneous, sampling more clusters (≥10) may be required.

Leverage the power of ritual to improve community health worker efficacy and public health outcomes: Lessons from Bihar, India

Cristine Legare et al., The Lancet Regional Health Southeast Asia

The lack of engagement with the biomedical and traditional medical rituals of local populations has obscured understanding the critical functions of these behaviors, limited the potential to leverage ritualization to increase behavioral uptake, and stymied social and behavioral change efforts. . . . We propose that health interventions should be informed by, and build upon, knowledge of health rituals. A deep understanding of existing beliefs and behaviors will allow local health "influencers" such as CHW to encourage new and modified rituals that integrate the best of biomedical and traditional health practices in ways that preserve their meaning and shared purpose.


Community intervention programmes with people affected by leprosy: Listening to the voice of professionals

Gema Martos-Casado, Carmen Vives-Cases and Diana Gil-González, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

This research provides information about barriers and recommendations related to the daily work of health professionals who work at organisations with people affected by leprosy in India and Brazil. Those barriers are related to social stigma, gender inequalities, services, resources and community participation. Health workers propose recommendations to reduce these barriers and to guarantee the sustainability of the programmes.

Barriers to cutaneous leishmaniasis care faced by indigenous communities of rural areas in Colombia: a qualitative study

Martha Milena Bautista-Gomez, Juliane Doerfler and Maria del Mar Castro, BMC Infectious Diseases

While the determinants to CL [cutaneous leishmaniasis ] management are multidimensional, the most important barrier is the inaccessibility to CL treatment to the most vulnerable populations and its inadequacy for the socio-territorial setting, as it is not designed around the people, their needs and their context.

Territory, neglected diseases and the action of community and endemic combat agents

Gabriela Soledad Márdero García et al., Revista de Saude Publica

Processes of health agents and endemic combat agents action in realities endemic for leprosy and Chagas disease in the interior of Bahia proved to be fragmented in the territories.

Can ivermectin mass drug administrations to control scabies also reduce skin and soft tissue infections? Hospitalizations and primary care presentations lower after a large-scale trial in Fiji

Jo Middleton, The Lancet Regional Health - Western Pacific

These results strongly support (1) expansion of ivermectin MDAs targeting scabies and impetigo, (2) collection of similar hospitalisation and primary care data as MDAs expand, and (3) development of further research and interventions that capitalise on how NTD control can secondarily reduce wider burdens to health systems. 

Fifty years of struggle to control cutaneous leishmaniasis in the highest endemic county in Iran: A longitudinal observation inferred with interrupted time series model

Mohammadreza Aflatoonian et al., PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

Multiple complex factors were among the leading causes that synergistically induced the emergence/re-emergence of CL outbreaks in Bam. The main factors attributed negatively to CL control were cessation of malaria spraying activity, expansion of the city spaces, and a massive earthquake creating new breeding potentials for the vectors. Since humans are the single reservoir host for CL in this area, early detection and effective management significantly contribute to controlling CL to reduce the disease burden. However, continuous funding and more trained forces are critical to strengthening surveillance and case management and monitoring the interventions’ impact.

Prix Christophe Mérieux 2022 de la Fondation Christophe et Rodolphe Mérieux Institut de France

Institut Merieux

Congratulations to Joseph Kamgno on being awarded the 2022 Christophe Mérieux prize from Fondation Christophe et Rodolphe Mérieux, Institut de France. Kamgno is receiving the prize in honor of his scientific work focused on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) which constitute a burden and a brake on socio-economic development in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

In Memoriam: Thomas R. Klei, PhD

American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene

The Society mourns the loss of longtime member Thomas R. Klei, PhD, a member of The Onchocerciasis Vaccine for Africa (TOVA) Consortium and one of the world's leading experts in the development and testing of experimental models of human and animal filarial infections.

Combining rapid diagnostic tests to estimate primary and post-primary dengue immune status at the point of care

Joseph R. Biggs, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

Different RDT [rapid diagnostic tests] outcomes, at certain stages of infection, were indicative of primary and post-primary immune status. Using our framework to determine dengue immune status at the point of care in low resource settings, regional surveillance systems could estimate and monitor dengue transmission intensity. Additionally, this framework could potentially support dengue prognosis and identify primary cases who would benefit from current vaccination regimes to prevent subsequent secondary infections associated with severe diseases.


Pandemic restrictions provide insights into how human movement affects vector-borne diseases

Karina Mondragon-Shem, BugBitten

The public health measures implemented by different countries during the pandemic are providing an opportunity for researchers to understand the impact of movement restrictions on vector-borne diseases.


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

Elimination of Leprosy: Initiatives in the Americas and Africa
June 7, 2022
Sasakawa Health Foundation

Diagnosis of schistosomiasis by CCA or CAA detecting lateral flow tests: Facts and challenges.
June 14, 2022
Global Schistosomiasis Alliance

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

Worldleish7 (the international Congress on leishmaniasis)
Aug. 1-6, 2022

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