'WHO: Bangladesh eliminates visceral leishmaniasis, Maldives interrupts leprosy transmission and DPR Korea eliminates rubella' 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.


Fighting River Blindness in Southern Venezuela

María Eugenia Grillet, Caracas Chronicles

Two and up to four times a year, a team made up of health personnel from the Ministry of Health’s SACAICET (Simón Bolívar Amazon Center for Research and Control of Tropical Diseases), Indigenous Health Agents (Indigenous people trained in modern health practices) and military and civilian local personnel that give logistical support, visit around 393 indigenous communities dispersed in the jungles of the Venezuelan Amazon, in the states of Amazonas and Bolívar. 

Since 2000, the health team has visited the communities –after days and weeks of crossing through the rainforest or high-altitude savannahs– to supply an antiparasitic drug called ivermectin and fight onchocerciasis: an infection caused by the Onchocerca volvulus wormIn fact, by 2016, we reported that the transmission of this infection had stopped in approximately 75% of the endemic area. Despite the health crisis that Venezuela has gone through, the onchocerciasis elimination program in Venezuela has continued to work reasonably well. 

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Intestinal helminth co-infection and associated factors among pulmonary tuberculosis patients in Africa and Asia: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Yohannes Zenebe et al., BMC Infectious Diseases

Tuberculosis (TB) and intestinal helminths have huge public health importance, and they are geographically overlapped. Data about the burden of intestinal helminth and TB co-infection in these areas are fragmented. In this systematic review and meta-analysis we compile the current literatures and generate pooled prevalence. We also identity factors associated with intestinal helminth co-infection among TB patients.


Trachoma, a blinding disease that remains neglected in Kenya

Mercy Kahenda, The Standard (Kenya)

Trachoma remains a neglected tropical disease in Kenya, despite 10 million people being at risk of contracting it, more so in arid and semi-arid where livestock is the main economic activity.

Dr Rebeccah Oenga, an ophthalmologist at Kajiado County Referral Hospital and coordinating eye care services in Kajiado County explains that trachoma is an eye disease caused by bacteria, known as chlamydia trachomatis that causes inflammation or conjunctivitis in the eye.

Canada Joins PAHO’s Fight Against Trachoma in Developing Countries

Hailey Spencer, Borgen Magazine

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in collaboration with Canada announced recently that it will strengthen the fight against trachoma, an optic disease that causes people to go blind. A bacterium causes this disease, which is then transmitted by flies and then onto people.


sNailed it: Unlocking the potential of citizen science to control and prevent snail-borne diseases

Noelia Valderrama, BugBitten

A groundbreaking approach, the ATRAP project - Action Towards Reducing Aquatic snail-borne Parasitic diseases - uses a Citizen Science approach to engage and empower community members to map and monitor for biomedically important snails in their communities, contributing to biomedical research, disease surveillance and community awareness.


Bangladesh eliminates visceral leishmaniasis, Maldives interrupts leprosy transmission and DPR Korea eliminates rubella: WHO

Shamila Sharma, World Health Organization

The World Health Organization today announced elimination of visceral leishmaniasis as a public health problem by Bangladesh, interruption of leprosy transmission by Maldives and elimination of rubella by DPR Korea.

The pipeline for drugs for control and elimination of neglected tropical diseases: 2. Oral anti-infective drugs and drug combinations for off-label use

Kenneth M. Pfarr et al., Parasites & Vectors

In its ‘Road map for neglected tropical diseases 2021–2030’, the World Health Organization outlined its targets for control and elimination of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and research needed to achieve them. For many NTDs, this includes research for new treatment options for case management and/or preventive chemotherapy. Our review of small-molecule anti-infective drugs recently approved by a stringent regulatory authority (SRA) or in at least Phase 2 clinical development for regulatory approval showed that this pipeline cannot deliver all new treatments needed. WHO guidelines and country policies show that drugs may be recommended for control and elimination for NTDs for which they are not SRA approved (i.e. for ‘off-label’ use) if efficacy and safety data for the relevant NTD are considered sufficient by WHO and country authorities. Here, we are providing an overview of clinical research in the past 10 years evaluating the anti-infective efficacy of oral small-molecule drugs for NTD(s) for which they are neither SRA approved, nor included in current WHO strategies nor, considering the research sponsors, likely to be registered with a SRA for that NTD, if found to be effective and safe. No such research has been done for yaws, guinea worm, Trypanosoma brucei gambiense human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), rabies, trachoma, visceral leishmaniasis, mycetoma, T. b. rhodesiense HAT, echinococcosis, taeniasis/cysticercosis or scabies.

Africa: Bill Gates Talks Gene Drives, mRNA, and U.S.$40m in Science Funding

Nontobeko Mlambo, allAfrica

Infectious diseases continue to be the major causes of deaths in Africa. The burden of existing, emerging and re-emerging diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, cholera, schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis, sleeping sickness, Ebola and SARS continues to grow - and once you move beyond mortality statistics, the huge s ocio-economic costs - care and treatment, hospital admissions, productivity loss, and disability reveals a heavy toll on the continent.

In 2003, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation launched the Grand Challenges initiative in order to find scientific solutions to these health challenges. Initially, the initiative focused on 14 scientific challenges including focusing on creating effective single-dose vaccines that can be used soon after birth, discovering drugs and delivery systems that minimise the likelihood of drug-resistant micro-organisms, creating therapies that can cure latent infection, and developing needle-free delivery systems.


16th Request for Proposals for the Target Research Platform


The GHIT Fund is pleased to release the 16th Request for Proposals for the Target Research Platform to support the early-stage discovery and development of novel technologies and approaches for new drugs, vaccines, or diagnostics for malaria, tuberculosis, and Neglected Tropical Diseases listed in the GHIT Intent to Apply form.

Proposed projects should be innovative in nature and focused on early-stage discovery and technologies and approaches that address unmet or priority needs within the outlined disease and intervention scopes. In addition, proposed projects should be primarily originated from or materially involve a Japanese science and technology and partnerships will need to be between eligible Japanese and non-Japanese organizations.

For detailed Request for Proposals information, please visit RFP-TRP-2024-001. The deadline to submit the Intent to Apply form is no later than 10 a.m. JST on November 28, 2023.

The submission deadline for the Full Proposal is no later than 10 a.m. JST on January 12, 2024.

Please note that the link to this article will open as a download.

Upcoming Events

SIRWASH webinar 2: Formalising and strengthening institutions for supporting rural WASH services
November 7, 2023
Inter-American Development Bank

SIRWASH webinar 3: Rural sanitation – why is it left behind?
November 15, 2023
Inter-American Development Bank

IACS Annual Scabies Control Meetings 2023: Meeting 1 Europe/Africa
November 15, 2023 

IACS Annual Scabies Control Meetings 2023: Meeting 2 Asia/Pacific/PAHO
November 21, 2023 

November 20-23, 2023
European Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health