Use of medicinal plants as a remedy against lymphatic filariasis 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.

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“Our interventions are still here to support communities during the pandemic”: Resuming mass drug administration for neglected tropical diseases after COVID-19 implementation delays

Tikhala Itaye et al., PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted essential health services, including those provided by national neglected tropical disease (NTD) programs. Most mass drug administration (MDA) programs were postponed for 6–12 months following World Health Organization guidance released in April 2020 to temporarily halt NTD programs and launch necessary COVID-19 precautions. While NTD-endemic countries have since resumed MDA activities, it is critical to understand implementers’ perspectives on the key challenges and opportunities for program relaunch, as these insights are critical for maximizing gains towards disease control and elimination during public health emergencies. Using data from using online surveys and focus group discussions, this mixed-methods study sought perspectives from Ministry of Health NTD Program Managers and implementing partners from non-governmental organizations working in sub-Saharan Africa. Data analysis revealed that findings converged around several main themes: disruptions for MDA programs included resource shortages due to prioritization of pandemic response, challenges adhering to COVID-19 safety protocols, and community hesitancy due to coronavirus transmission fears. Identified solutions for restarting MDA programs focused on adapting intervention delivery and packaging to minimize disease transmission, embracing technology to optimize intervention planning and delivery, and identifying opportunities to promote program integration between pandemic response strategies and NTD campaign delivery. Findings identifies key challenges due to disruptions to NTD program delivery and provide strategic recommendations for endemic countries to build resilient programs that can continue to perform during and beyond global pandemics.

Lymphatic filariasis

Use of medicinal plants as a remedy against lymphatic filariasis: Current status and future prospect

Fatima A. Fordjour et al., Wiley Online Library

Despite the successes achieved so far with the Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis, there is still an appreciable number of lymphatic filarial patients who need alternative treatment and morbidity management strategies. The unresponsiveness of some cohorts to the drugs used in the mass drug administration program is currently raising a lot of questions and this needs urgent attention. Natural medicinal plants have a long-standing history of being effective against most disease conditions. Countries such as India have been able to integrate their natural plant remedies into the treatment of lymphatic filarial conditions, and the results are overwhelmingly positive. Components of Azadirachta indica A. Juss, Parkia biglobosaAdansonia digitata, and Ocimum spp have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anticancerous, and antimicrobial activities in animal models. Therefore, this review calls for attention toward the use of natural plant components as an alternate treatment against lymphatic filariasis to help reduce the World Health Organization's burden of providing drugs for people in need of treatment every year.


Health-seeking behaviour regarding schistosomiasis treatment in the absence of a mass drug administration (MDA) program: the case of endemic communities along Lake Albert in Western Uganda

Maxson Kenneth Anyolitho, Viola Nilah Nyakato, Tine Huyse, Karolien Poels, and Caroline Masquillier, BMC Public Health

Schistosomiasis poses a serious public health problem and a social challenge affecting over 240 million people, the majority of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends praziquantel (PZQ) drug treatment through regular mass drug administration (MDA) accompanied by social mobilisation and health education and sensitisation. With social mobilisation and health education and sensitisation, there is bound to be increased demand for the PZQ, especially in the case of endemic communities. However, it is not clear where communities go for PZQ treatment in the absence of PZQ MDA. We explored the health-seeking behaviours regarding schistosomiasis treatment among communities along Lake Albert in Western Uganda when MDA had delayed, to inform a review of the implementation policy for the achievement of the WHO’s 2030 target of 75% coverage and uptake.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Epidemiology of soil-transmitted helminths using quantitative PCR and risk factors for hookworm and Necator americanus infection in school children in Dak Lak province, Vietnam

Angus Hughes et al., Parasites & Vectors

Soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infection is driven by a complex interaction of demographic, socioeconomic and behavioural factors, including those related to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). Epidemiological studies that measure both infection and potential risk factors associated with infection help to understand the drivers of transmission in a population and therefore can provide information to optimise STH control programmes.


Carter Center Celebrates Trachoma Elimination Milestone in Mali

Kane Farabaugh, VOA

The Carter Center was already a decade into its fight against Guinea worm globally when former President Jimmy Carter and his nonprofit took on another neglected tropical disease in the African nation of Mali.

“From 1996 to 1998, it was estimated about 85,000 to 90,000 people would go blind from trachoma,” said Kelly Callahan, director of the Carter Center’s trachoma control program. “Twenty-five[%] to 50% of the children between the ages of 1 and 9, in all areas of Mali, suffered from the beginning stages of this disease.”


Role and capacity needs of community based surveillance volunteers in the integrated management of skin neglected tropical diseases (skin NTDs): a qualitative study from central Ghana

Lucy Owusu et al., BMC Public Health

Community Based Surveillance Volunteers (CBSVs) have been instrumental in the management of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) but a concern that their services in scale up programmes may be affected due to high attrition rates has been widely acknowledged. We explored the roles and capacity needs of existing CBSVs to inform for a successful integrated NTD management programme in Ghana and similar contexts.

Discovering new pathways toward integration between health and sustainable development goals with natural language processing and network science

Thomas Bryan Smith, Raffaele Vacca, Luca Mantegazza, and Ilaria Capua, Globalization and Health

Research on health and sustainable development is growing at a pace such that conventional literature review methods appear increasingly unable to synthesize all relevant evidence. This paper employs a novel combination of natural language processing (NLP) and network science techniques to address this problem and to answer two questions: (1) how is health thematically interconnected with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in global science? (2) What specific themes have emerged in research at the intersection between SDG 3 (“Good health and well-being”) and other sustainability goals?

Monetary Value of Disability-Adjusted Life Years and Potential Productivity Losses Associated With Neglected Tropical Diseases in the East African Community

Joses Muthuri Kirigia and Patrick Kinyua Kubai, Dovepress

In 2019, the East African Community (EAC) lost 12,048,918 disability-adjusted life-years (DALY) across all ages from neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). The specific objectives of the study reported in the paper were to estimate for EAC the monetary value of DALYs sustained by all ages from NTDs, and the potential productivity losses within the working age bracket of 15 years and above.

Schistosomiasis and soil transmitted helminths in Brazil

Outbreak News Today

Schistosomiasis is present in most Brazilian states, but mainly in the Northeast and Southeast regions. The states of Alagoas, Bahia, Pernambuco, Rio Grande do Norte, Paraíba, Sergipe, Espírito Santo, Maranhão and Minas Gerais are endemic, with established transmission.


Kyelem Prize nominations deadline tonight at midnight EST

As we prepare for the annual meeting of the Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases (COR-NTD), we look forward especially to conferring the annual Kyelem Prize, named in honor of the late Dominique Kyelem, to an outstanding member of our community.

The Kyelem Prize is given annually to an individual selected for his or her unique contributions to the efforts to control, eliminate, and eradicate neglected tropical diseases. Specifically, the COR-NTD Secretariat seeks nominations of individuals who carry on the legacy of the award's namesake, Dr. Dominique Kyelem.

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