Theatre-based behaviour change approach for influencing community uptake of schistosomiasis control measures 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: A network to SEE river blindness GONE

Caption: Community reviewing MDA results in Senegal; Credit: WHO/Rebollo Polo, Maria


Lymphatic filariasis

Spatially Explicit Environmental Factors Associated with Lymphatic Filariasis Infection in American Samoa

Morgan E. Lemin, Angela Cadavid Restrepo, Helen J. Mayfield and Colleen L. Lau, Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease

This study demonstrated that seroprevalence of LF infection markers were more consistently associated with topographical environmental variables, such as gradient of the slope, rather than climatic variables, such as rainfall. These results provide the initial groundwork to support the detection of areas where LF transmission is more likely to occur, and inform LF elimination efforts through better understanding of the environmental drivers.

Global programme to eliminate lymphatic filariasis: progress report, 2021

World Health Organization

Since the start of GPELF, the number of infections has been reduced by 74% globally. The latest estimate is that 51.4 million people are infected. . .Multiple rounds of MDA with effective coverage (≥65% of the total population) are required to achieve the desired effect. WHO recommends sentinel and spot-check community surveys, followed by a transmission assessment survey (TAS) to measure the impact of MDA and to determine whether the level of infection has decreased below the target threshold. TAS is repeated twice during 4–6 years after cessation of MDA (TAS2 and TAS3) to ensure no recrudescence of LF infection.


A network to SEE river blindness GONE

World Health Organization

Programmes, country representatives and other partner organisations are being invited to join the new Global Onchocerciasis Network for Elimination (GONE).

A cross-sectional study of Simulium damnosum sensu lato breeding sites and species distribution in Sudan savanna, mixed savanna–forest and rainforest regions in Cameroon

Franklin Ayisi et al., Parasites & Vectors

A comprehensive mapping of breeding sites requires rainy and dry seasons sampling. This study demonstrates that a breeding site survey of S. damnosum s.l. is achievable in forest as well as savanna zones. Not all potential breeding sites are actual breeding sites. Observation of S. soubrense in the SW indicates changes in species composition over time and could affect onchocerciasis epidemiology in this area.


A novel theatre-based behaviour change approach for influencing community uptake of schistosomiasis control measures

May N. Sule et al., Parasites & Vectors

This study showed that substantial positive behaviour changes in schistosomiasis control can be achieved using theatre-based BCT intervention and disease awareness training. With the appropriate sensitisation, education and stakeholder engagement approaches, community members were more open to minimising risk-associated contact with contaminated water sources and were mobilised to implement preventive measures.

The new WHO guideline for control and elimination of human schistosomiasis: implications for the Schistosomiasis Elimination Programme in Nigeria

Akinola Stephen Oluwole et al., Infectious Diseases of Poverty

NSCHEP and stakeholders must meet and issue new policy documents to domesticate the implementation of the new WHO guideline with support from local WHO offices WHO-AFRO/Nigeria. 

Occurrence of urinary schistosomiasis and associated bacteria in parts of Ondo State, Nigeria

Kikelomo J. Kone, Anthony K. Onifade and Ebenezer O. Dada, PLOS Global Public Health

This study revealed a high occurrence of urinary schistosomiasis and significant bacteriuria in the study areas which suggests that bacterial presence may be a potent complication in the management of urinary schistosomiasis.

Urogenital schistosomiasis among pre-school and school aged children in four districts of north western Tanzania after 15 years of mass drug administration: Geographical prevalence, risk factors and performance of haematuria reagent strips

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

Comparing with the earlier mapping survey at the start of the national wide mass drug administration, the prevalence of Shaematobium infection have significantly declined. This partly could be attributed to repeated rounds of mass drug administration. The urine reagent strips remain as a useful adjunct diagnostic test for rapid monitoring of urogenital schistosomiasis in areas with low and high prevalence. Based on prevalence levels and with some schools having no detectable infections, review of the current blanket mass drug administration is recommended.

Patient journey and resources mapping to implement a praziquantel mass drug administration program for children aged 5 years and below in resource-limited settings

Mhlengi Vella Ncube, Muhubiri Kabuyaya and Moses John Chimbari, Systematic Reviews

A PZQ mass drug administration program for children aged 5 years old and below in endemic areas should exclude the diagnosis of schistosomiasis before treatment. The resources required in the treatment process should be affordable, and should not require skills and maintenance resources that are beyond those that are available at the primary healthcare level.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Safety Surveillance of Mass Praziquantel and Albendazole Co-Administration in School Children from Southern Ethiopia: An Active Cohort Event Monitoring

Tigist Dires Gebreyesus et al., Journal of Clinical Medicine

In summary, praziquantel and albendazole co-administration is generally safe and tolerable. MDA-associated AEs are mostly mild-to-moderately severe and transient. The finding of few severe AEs and significantly high rates of AEs in helminth-infected children underscores the need to integrate pharmacovigilance in MDA programs, especially in high schistosomiasis and STH endemic areas.

Impact of a 5-Year Mass Drug Administration Programme for Soil-Transmitted Helminthiases on the Spatial Distribution of Childhood Anaemia in Burundi from 2007 to 2011

Mohamad Assoum et al., Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease

Despite ongoing MDA, the prevalence of anaemia in SAC remained high and increased in certain parts of the country. It is recommended that MDA programmes targeting STH are complemented with specific anaemia interventions.


Trachoma elimination targets missed in Australia

Rebecca Barksby, The Lancet Microbe

Trachoma prevalence in Australia has declined over the past decade and the government has made commitments to improving the health of Indigenous people. However, achieving the last step of elimination will be difficult if data on living conditions are not recorded or improved. In the words of Simon Bush: “trachoma elimination requires leaving no one behind”.

Clinical signs of trachoma and laboratory evidence of ocular Chlamydia trachomatis infection in a remote Queensland community: a serial cross‐sectional study

Kathleen D Lynch et al., The Medical Journal of Australia

Despite the prevalence of clinical signs consistent with trachomatous inflammation–follicular among 5–9‐year‐old children exceeding the 5% threshold for community‐wide treatment, laboratory testing indicated that childhood exposure to ocular C. trachomatis is rare in this community. Laboratory testing should be integrated into Australian trachoma guidelines.

Where should we offer mass drug administration for trachoma?

Jaki Adams, Sung Hye Kim and Anthony W Solomon, The Medical Journal of Australia

Elimination programs should be guided by the prevalence of markers of infection, not of disease.

Perceptions and practices of community members relating to trachoma in Africa: a qualitative systematic review

Asahngwa Constantine Tanywe, Heidi Green and Ritin Fernandez, JBI Evidence Synthesis

Various perceptions and practices relating to trachoma exist among community members in Africa. These perceptions and practices are influenced by knowledge, cultural beliefs, economic factors, and environmental factors. The findings suggest the need for decision-makers in policy and practice to consider and include these perceptions and practices when designing interventions to combat trachoma in endemic countries. However, due to the limited number of included studies and their methodological weaknesses, more high-quality studies are needed to have a deeper and broader view on these perceptions and practices.


Kigali Summit on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) Report

Uniting to Combat NTDs

We are pleased to share with you an Outcome Report, which provides an overview of key NTD-specific impacts and metrics from the Kigali Summit on Malaria and NTDs held earlier this year. The report summarises the incredible political and financial commitments made to NTDs, including endorsements to the Kigali Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases, and information on the Kigali Declaration Commitment Tracker. It also includes the results of the Summit Attendee Survey.

Evaluating and mitigating the potential indirect effect of COVID-19 on control programmes for seven neglected tropical diseases: a modelling study

Anna Borlase et al., The Lancet Global Health

We show that the effect of the COVID-19-induced interruption in terms of delay to achieving elimination goals might in some cases be much longer than the duration of the interruption. For schistosomiasis, onchocerciasis, trachoma, and visceral leishmaniasis, a mean delay of 2–3 years for a 1-year interruption is predicted in areas of highest prevalence. We also show that these delays can largely be mitigated by measures such as additional mass drug administration or enhanced case-finding.

Finding realistic solutions to NTD target delays

Antonio Montresor and Albis Francesco Gabrielli, The Lancet Global Health

It is our opinion that the formulation of recommendations on control interventions in the area of NTDs should also take into consideration programmatic aspects such as those mentioned above. In the case of soil-transmitted helminthiases, more frequent rounds of treatment with no expansion of the target population, as recommended for most of the other NTDs considered by the authors, could be a more practical solution than targeting adults. We would like to take this opportunity to invite Anna Borlase and colleagues to investigate whether the desired effect of the two approaches would be comparable or not.

Assessing seroprevalence and associated risk factors for multiple infectious diseases in Sabah, Malaysia using serological multiplex bead assays

YuYen L. Chan et al., Frontiers in Public Health

Multiplex bead assays can be used to assess serological responses to numerous pathogens simultaneously to support infectious disease surveillance in rural communities, especially where prevalences estimates are lacking for neglected tropical diseases. Demographic and spatial data collected alongside serosurveys can prove useful in identifying risk factors associated with exposure and geographic distribution of transmission.

COVID-19: A unique opportunity to improve laboratory capacity for neglected tropical diseases in sub-Saharan Africa

Adebiyi A. Adeniran, Louise Claire Hamill, Richard Selby and Philip Downs, Frontiers in Tropical Diseases

While many public health and university laboratories have become involved in COVID-19 testing during the pandemic, these laboratories now run the risk of being underutilized as COVID-19 testing wanes. This is particularly true of established COVID-19 laboratories in many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). In this article, we make a case for repurposing many of these laboratories to support control programs for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in endemic countries as they contemplate how to strengthen laboratory capacity for all endemic and emerging epidemiological diseases.


Communication in Neglected Tropical Diseases’ elimination: A scoping review and call for action

Claudia Nieto-Sanchez et al., PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

This article is a call to action to consider the resources offered by the health communication field when researching, designing, or implementing NTD interventions.


World Scabies Program


This video highlights the public health approach to controlling scabies. World Scabies Program is working with Fiji and Solomon Islands to scale this approach to the whole country.

Global Handwashing Day: Minister Urges Washing of Hand With Soap and Water

Folalumi Alaran, This Day (Nigeria)

Adamu, who spoke through Mrs Elizabeth Ugoh, Director Water Quality Control and Sanitation, explained that the event is observed annually to raise awareness on value of using soap to wash hands and to lessen the burden of numerous diseases that pose a threat to development and population health. According to him, only 13% of Nigeria’s rural residents have access to water sanitation and hygiene WASH, compared to 25% of its urban residents, and the wealthiest homes are nearly four times more likely to have basic handwashing facilities than the poorest households, which affects an estimated 171 million Nigerians. . . He therefore pleaded with all stakeholders in the sanitation sector to build on the gains made in recent years by working together to ensure that handwashing facilities are present in their residences, offices, schools, healthcare facilities, and other public areas.