Safety of mass drug coadministration 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 nor the Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center. 


Lymphatic filariasis

Blood tests done in kids to eradicate lymphatic filaria

The Times of India

Blood test of selected 50 children in the age group five-nine years has begun in Eloor municipality as part of the district-level eradication of lymphatic filariasis.


Linking a disease to knowledge of its vector: River blindness and black flies

Hilary Hurd, BugBitten

This study emphasises the importance of teaching the link between a parasitic infection and the vector that spreads it. Awareness of black fly biting nuisance and subsequent loss of working time, in combination with new knowledge of the role they play in causing onchocerciasis, is likely to enhance the success of community based black fly control programmes in the future.

Onchocerca volvulus transmission in the Mbam valley of Cameroon following 16 years of annual community-directed treatment with ivermectin, and the description of a new cytotype of Simulium squamosum

Adam Hendy et al., Parasites & Vectors

Relatively low O. volvulus infection rates appear to be offset by extremely high densities of biting black flies which are sustaining transmission along the banks of the lower Mbam river.

Risk Factors for Nodding Syndrome and Other Forms of Epilepsy in Northern Uganda: A Case-Control Study

Nolbert Gumisiriza et al., Pathogens

In conclusion, O. volvulus seropositivity was a risk factor to develop NS [nodding syndrome] and OFE [non-nodding epilepsy]; premature birth was a potential co-factor. Living in IDP camps was not a risk factor for developing NS or OFE.

River blindness campaign shows role of media in solving problems

John Kakonge, Nation (Africa)

The mass media also helped in conveying accurate essential information to the communities at risk. No doubt, without media involvement the OCP [Onchocerciasis Control Programme] could not have mobilised the level of support that it did.


Female Genital Schistosomiasis (FGS) in Cameroon: A formative epidemiological and socioeconomic investigation in eleven rural fishing communities

Makia Christine Masong, PLOS Global Public Health

With our first formative evidence on prevalence, socioeconomic effects and experiences of FGS amongst women and girls in Cameroon, we have clarified to a new level of detail the deficit in provision of and access to peripheral health services in remote areas of Cameroon. Using this information, there is now strong evidence for national programs and services on women’s health and schistosomiasis to update and revise policies targeted on prevention and management of FGS. We therefore stress the need for regular provision of Praziquantel treatment to adolescent girls and women in Shaematobium endemic areas, alongside better access to tailored diagnostic services that can detect FGS and appropriately triage care at primary health level.

“We know about schistosomiasis but we know nothing about FGS”: A qualitative assessment of knowledge gaps about female genital schistosomiasis among communities living in Schistosoma haematobium endemic districts of Zanzibar and Northwestern Tanzania

Humphrey D. Mazigo et al., PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

Community members living in two very different areas of Tanzania exhibited major, similar gaps in knowledge about FGS. Our data illustrate a critical need for the national control program to integrate public health education about FGS during the implementation of school- and community-based mass drug administration (MDA) programs and the improvement of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities.

Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices on Urinary Schistosomiasis among Primary Schoolchildren in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa

Sydlynn Dorné Hambury et al., Journal of Parasitology Research

The study revealed that there was a positive correlation between knowledge and attitude. The overall knowledge and attitudes on schistosomiasis were poor. Furthermore, a gender-related difference based on practices emerged significant in the study. The findings are thus valuable in designing effective and targeted schistosomiasis control programmes.

Transmission Dynamics of Schistosoma haematobium among School-Aged Children: A Cohort Study on Prevalence, Reinfection and Incidence after Mass Drug Administration in the White Nile State of Sudan

Yan Jin et al., International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

We aimed to explore the transmission dynamics of urogenital schistosomiasis after MDA, targeting school-aged children in the White Nile State of Sudan, assessing the prevalence, reinfection rate, and incidence.

Unknown disease putting women at risk of cancer

Tijani Salami, The Guardian

I was talking to a fellow physician a few days ago that had recently treated a 70-year-old woman with cervical cancer. Upon examination it turned out she was infected with schistosomiasis, a parasitic worm, commonly known as bilharzia. It is quite likely that her long-term infection with the schistosomiasis parasite had caused her cervical cancer. 

Schistosomiasis Research Grant

Merck KGaA

Fifteen projects have been selected considering a holistic approach spanning from drug resistance, drug discovery, immunology, diagnostics and vector surveillance. . . This initiative will generate tangible data: it will advance research and development for innovative treatments, sensitive diagnostics and local scientific know-how mainly in Africa in line with our integrated strategy and approach towards schistosomiasis elimination.

The Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium Announces Positive Phase III Results for Arpraziquantel To Treat Schistosomiasis

Daniela Bonora, Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium

Today, the Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium, a public-private partnership dedicated to the development of arpraziquantel, a potential new treatment option for schistosomiasis in preschool-aged children, announced the completion of its pivotal Phase III trial in Côte d'Ivoire and Kenya. The results of the trial, co-funded by the Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund and the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), confirm a favorable efficacy and safety profile for arpraziquantel in children 3 months to 6 years of age, affected by this neglected tropical disease.

Request for proposals: New diagnostics for schistosomiasis monitoring and evaluation Request for proposals: New diagnostics for schistosomiasis monitoring and evaluation

Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases

The Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) Support Center, a program of The Task Force for Global Health, with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the COR-NTD grant, is soliciting proposals for the near-term development of diagnostic and new/alternative platforms for monitoring and evaluation of schistosomiasis (S. mansoni and S. haematobium) control/elimination programs. The goal of this RFP is to produce diagnostic tools and/or platforms that can be used for monitoring and evaluation of schistosomiasis control/elimination programs. The programmatic context and diagnostic parameters that tools funded through this RFP must meet are outlined in the new WHO Schistosomiasis Monitoring and Evaluation TPP. Submissions must be received by January 31, 2022 in order to be considered.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Towards soil-transmitted helminths transmission interruption: The impact of diagnostic tools on infection prediction in a low intensity setting in Southern Mozambique

Berta Grau-Pujol et al., PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

In this study, we selected a low intensity district in Southern Mozambique where we evaluated how different diagnostic techniques detect STH when intensity of infection is low. In addition, we also created district maps for STH estimated infection prevalence based on the different diagnostics assessed in order to identify the location of ongoing transmission. qPCR showed to be the most sensitive technique. Hence, maps based on the widely used Kato-Katz could underestimate the STH prevalence and lose hidden transmission.

Trend of Soil-Transmitted Helminths in Ethiopian Children: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (2000-2018)

Getaneh Alemu et al., Journal of Parasitology Research

Despite various control efforts having been made, soil-transmitted helminths are of high distribution, and their prevalence is not significantly decreasing in Ethiopia. Hence, other control approaches like community-led sanitation should be integrated with mass drug administration to achieve the national goal of soil-transmitted helminth elimination by 2025.

The prevalence of soil transmitted helminth infections in minority indigenous populations of South-East Asia and the Western Pacific Region: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Beth Gilmour, Kefyalew Addis Alene, and Archie C. A. Clements, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

The prevalence of STH infection is high within minority indigenous populations across countries at very different levels of socio-economic development. The increasing prevalence of Ttrichiura calls for the implementation of more effective therapies and control strategies.

“The Magic Glasses Philippines”: a cluster randomised controlled trial of a health education package for the prevention of intestinal worm infections in schoolchildren

Mary Lorraine S Mationg et al., The Lancet Regional Health Western Pacific

The health-education package demonstrated a modest but statistically significant impact on the students’ overall STH knowledge and changes in their behaviour but was only effective in preventing STH infections in intervention schools where the baseline prevalence was ≤15%.

Advancing Towards the Elimination of Intestinal Parasites Requires More Sensitive Diagnostic Tools

Barcelona Institute for Public Health, Barcelona Institute for Public Health

A new study that combines PCR with geostatistical methods shows that the prevalence of intestinal worm infections in Southern Mozambique is higher than that estimated by conventional methods.


Population Prevalence of Trachoma in Nine Rural Non-Indigenous Evaluation Units of Brazil

Célia Landmann Szwarcwald et al., Ophthalmic Epidemiology

The prevalence of TF was well below the target for elimination as a public health problem in all EUs. Because EUs surveyed were selected to represent the highest-risk nonindigenous areas of the country, TF prevalence is unlikely to be ≥5% in non-indigenous populations elsewhere. In one EU, the prevalence of TT was above the target threshold for elimination. Further investigation and possibly improvement in TT surgical provision are required in that EU.

Uganda and Kenya conduct first joint cross-border mass drug administration for trachoma


The Ministries of Health of Uganda and Kenya have launched their first cross-border mass drug administration (MDA) for trachoma, bringing the two countries another step closer to eliminating the disease.

Video: Publication of Trachoma Survey Data: Part 1 Introduction to the Workshop

Tropical Data

Publication of Trachoma Survey Data Part 1 of 6: Introduction to the Workshop. ICMJE authorship guidelines:

Model-based geostatistics enables more precise estimates of neglected tropical-disease prevalence in elimination settings: mapping trachoma prevalence in Ethiopia

Benjamin Amoah et al., International Journal of Epidemiology

By accounting for and exploiting spatial correlation in the prevalence data, we achieved remarkably improved precision of prevalence estimates compared with the traditional approach. The geostatistical approach also delivers predictions for unsampled evaluation units that are geographically close to sampled evaluation units.

Reducing Blinding Trachoma in Ethiopia

CBM Australia

A recent independent evaluation looked at how effective the CBM project was and its impact on reducing the risk of trachoma through improved access to safe and clean water. From a survey of 659 households in the target area, it found that 99% of households had improved access to drinking water – a significant increase from the baseline figure of 52%. . . .The project also supported the establishment of Anti-Trachoma Clubs in school by providing them with educational material. 


Factors influencing mass drug administration adherence and community drug distributor opportunity costs in Liberia: a mixed-methods approach

Efundem Agboraw et al., Parasites & Vectors

More respondents were aware of MDA than NTD in both counties. . . Thematic analysis identified challenges, including shortages of and delays in medicine availability; CDD frustration over costs; reporting challenges; and household concerns about drug side effects.

U.S. Government Support to Boost Papua New Guinea’s Efforts Against Disabling Diseases


In celebration of USAID’s 60th anniversary, U.S. Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, and the Solomon Islands Erin E. McKee announced U.S. government support to end neglected tropical diseases in PNG. The U.S. government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is providing $250,000 in support through the World Health Organization (WHO) to help Papua New Guinea (PNG) end painful and disfiguring neglected tropical diseases such as lymphatic filariasis.

Vertical disease programs and their effect on integrated disease surveillance and response: perspectives of epidemiologists and surveillance officers in Nigeria

Francis Idenyi Onwe, Ijeoma Nkem Okedo-Alex, Ifeyinwa Chizoba Akamike and Dorothy Ogechi Igwe-Okomiso, Tropical Diseases, Travel Medicine and Vaccines

We found that vertical programs in the surveyed States in the Nigerian health system led to duplication of efforts, inequitable funding, and inefficiencies in surveillance. We recommend integration of existing vertical programs into the IDSR system, increased resource allocation, and political support to improve IDSR.

Safety of mass drug coadministration with ivermectin, diethylcarbamazine, albendazole, and azithromycin for the integrated treatment of neglected tropical diseases: a cluster randomized community trial

Lucy N John et al., The Lancet Regional Health - Western Pacific

We assessed the safety of combined MDA for multiple neglected tropical diseases using ivermectin, diethylcarbamazine, albendazole (IDA) and azithromycin (AZI). . . In the largest trial so far involving coadministration of regimens based on IDA and AZI, the combination was safe and feasible in a population of more than 15,000 people.

Bulletin of the World Health Organization

US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health

Highlights from the WHO Bulletin’s November 2021 theme issue on: behavioural and social sciences for better health.

Request for Proposals: Increasing Effectiveness of Delivery of Preventive Chemotherapy against NTDs

Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases

The Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) Support Center, a program of The Task Force for Global Health, with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the COR-NTD grant, is soliciting proposals to improve the delivery of preventive chemotherapy for the elimination of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs

Global Grand Challenges: Grant Opportunities

Global Grand Challenges

The Grand Challenges family of initiatives fosters innovation to solve key health and development problems. See below for Grand Challenges grant opportunities with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as sole or contributing funder. Proposals are requested for Innovations in Eliminating Neglected Tropical Diseases and more. 


Advances in Preclinical Platforms of Loa loa for Filarial Neglected Tropical Disease Drug and Diagnostics Research

Samuel Wanji et al., Frontiers in Tropical Diseases

Here we review recent advances in loiasis preclinical platform technologies, including novel in vitro culturing systems, animal models and innovations in experimental infections of the L. loa vector, Chrysops, that have facilitated access to all L. loa filarial life-cycle stages. We detail applications of these new model systems in anti-filarial drug screening, diagnostic development, immunology, and pathophysiology research. Finally, we provide an overview of how loiasis preclinical platforms may be further utilized in translational medicine applications to support the development of much needed new interventions against filarial NTDs.

Fighting the world's most deadly animal: the mosquito

Mia Rozenbaum, Understanding Animal Research

Several large-scale experiments in using genetically modified mosquitoes to control populations are being run in different locations around the world. 

KU Leuven researchers develop an ultrapotent inhibitor of dengue virus

Emily Henderson, News Medical Lifesciences

Researchers at the KU Leuven Rega Institute and CD3 have developed an ultrapotent inhibitor of the dengue virus, which causes the tropical disease known as dengue. The teams collaborated closely with Janssen Pharmaceutica, N.V. The antiviral molecule is exceptionally effective against all known dengue variants and could be used for therapeutic and prevention purposes. The teams have published their findings in Nature.

Eradication Is a Difficult, Lengthy Affair

Kashef Ijaz, The Carter Center

All eight diseases on the ITFDE’s list have been largely eliminated in developed countries but remain a real threat in many places. Eradication of any of them would dramatically and permanently improve the quality of life for millions of the world’s poorest people, but it requires commitment and persistence. 

Minimally invasive sampling to identify leprosy patients with a high bacterial burden in the Union of the Comoros

Sofie Marijke Braet et al., PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

To our knowledge, this is the first study that compared αPGL-I IgM levels in fingerstick blood with the bacterial load determined by RLEP-qPCR in skin biopsies of leprosy patients. The demonstrated potential of minimally invasive sampling such as fingerstick blood samples to identify high bacterial load persons likely to be accountable for the ongoing transmission, merits further evaluation in follow-up studies.

David Addiss Wins 2021 Kyelem Prize

Emily Owens, Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases

At the annual meeting of the Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases (COR-NTD), the Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center announced Dr. David Addiss as winner of the 2021 Kyelem Prize. The Kyelem Prize, given annually in honor of Dr. Dominique Kyelem, recognizes people in the neglected tropical disease (NTD) field who have been particularly effective in bringing together those who implement NTD control and elimination.


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

American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Annual Meeting
November 17-21, 2021
American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

Country's Perspective: Introduction of Pediatric Praziquantel for Schistosomiasis in Tanzania
November 18, 2021
Japan Alliance on Global NTDs

Canadian Conference on Global Health
November 24-26, 2021
Canadian Association for Global Health

A Conversation on Creating Disability Inclusion in Public Health
December 1, 2021
The Task Force for Global Health