Towards a shared understanding of sustainability for neglected tropical disease programs & 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 Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center. 

A health worker helps a child clean their hands.  Photo Credit: USAID Cambodia

Lymphatic filariasis

How Papua New Guinea Can Eliminate Vector-Borne Diseases

Sarthak Das, Simon Bland, and Mobumo Kiromat, The Diplomat

Few may know that today – August 20 – marks the relatively obscure observance of World Mosquito Day, but mosquitoes (Spanish for “little flies”) are far from obscure.

Gates Foundation working with Centre to eliminate elephantiasis through triple …

The Hindu (Mumbai)

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is working with the Indian government to accelerate elimination of lymphatic filariasis (LF), commonly known as elephantiasis, through the nationwide roll-out of a triple drug therapy, said Dr. Helen Jamet, foundation’s deputy director, vector control, malaria. In an e-mail interaction with The Hindu, on the eve of World Mosquito Day, Dr. Jamet said the primary strategic goal is to support the government of India’s ambition to eliminate vector-borne diseases and expansion of integrated vector-borne disease surveillance.

Why it’s hard to end elephantiasis, a debilitating disease spread by mosquitoes

Alexander Kwarteng, Jonathan Roberts, Kristi Heather Kenyon and Mary Asirifi , The Conversation Africa

Research and interventions have been overwhelmingly biomedical, focusing largely on mass drug administration (ivermectin, albendazole, diethycarbarmazine). . . Placing the illness in the context of the local culture is still a major challenge for health practitioners. The lack of cultural engagement in eradication programmes is in itself a barrier. People with lymphatic filariasis view the illness through their cultural traditions.

Lymphatic filariasis elimination in the Dominican Republic: History, progress, …

Manuel Gonzales, Gregory S. Noland, Eileen F. Mariano and Stephen Blount, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

This report describes the efforts to eliminate the disease in the country, including a review of disease mapping and implementation of mass drug administration (MDA)—the provision of safe and effective medicine to at-risk communities—to interrupt parasite transmission. . . Impact evaluation data for each focus demonstrates interruption of LF transmission and that criteria to stop MDA have been met. Finally, plans for post-treatment surveillance and the scale-up of clinical care services for those who remain affected by chronic LF are presented—required elements for eliminating LF as a public health problem.

Countries Around the World are Working to Eliminate this Mosquito-Borne Disease

Curran McSwigan, USAID

Globally, more than 800 million people are estimated to be at risk for lymphatic filariasis (LF), a neglected tropical disease (NTD) that is considered to be one of the world’s most disabling and disfiguring infectious diseases.

Onchocerciasis

Onchocerciasis mass drug administration begins in Ashanti

Atlantic Federation of African Press Agencies

A mass drug administration against onchocerciasis in nine selected districts in the Ashanti Region is beginning today, August 23, according to the Regional Health Directorate. Over 500,000 people who are 90cm or above in height, except pregnant women, are estimated to receive the ivermectin medication during the exercise which ends on September 3.

'Slash and clear' vector control for onchocerciasis elimination and epilepsy...

Joseph Nelson Siewe Fodjo et al., BMJ Open

We aim to assess the effectiveness of annual S&C interventions combined with CDTI in reducing onchocerciasis transmission and epilepsy incidence.

 

Schistosomiasis

Diagnostic target product profiles for monitoring, evaluation and surveillance …

Amadou Garba Djirmay, World Health Organization

Health ministries currently lack effective tools for monitoring and evaluation of schistosomiasis control programmes. Egg detection can be used, but the cost, challenges of obtaining samples, and the need for trained personnel and equipment limit the frequency of monitoring. The purpose of this TPP is to guide the development of new diagnostic tools to reliably measure when prevalence is above or below a cut-off of 10% in school-aged children. Communities remaining above 10% require annual MDA, while communities below 10% can reduce MDA frequency as long as < 10% prevalence can be maintained. However, the lack of a reliable test has hindered the development of maintenance strategies. The test is also needed to track changes of prevalence > 10% to ensure that annual MDA is reducing overall prevalence.

Immunomics-guided discovery of serum and urine antibodies ... for schisto...

Mark S Pearson et al., The Lancet

We identified numerous biomarkers of urogenital schistosomiasis that could form the basis of novel antibody diagnostics for this disease. Two of these antigens, Sh-TSP-2 and MS3_01370, could be used as sensitive, specific, and field-deployable diagnostics to support schistosomiasis control and elimination initiatives, with particular focus on post-elimination surveillance.

Medical Imaging in the Diagnosis of Schistosomiasis: A Review

Andrea Cimini et al., Pathogens

Clinical and laboratory data are fundamental for the diagnosis of schistosomiasis, but diagnostic imaging techniques such as x-rays, ultrasound (US), computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) may be helpful in the evaluation of disease severity and complications. In this context, the aim of this review is to explore the actual role of diagnostic imaging in the diagnosis of schistosomiasis, underlining advantages and drawbacks providing information about the utilization of diagnostic imaging techniques in this context.

Optimal single sampling time-point for monitoring of praziquantel exposure...

Rajabu Hussein Mnkugwe et al., Scientific Reports

Four hours sampling time-point post-praziquantel administration is ideal optimal single sampling time-point for therapeutic monitoring of total praziquantel exposure while 6 h sampling time-point is suitable for monitoring of a pharmacologically active R-praziquantel enantiomer.

The praziquantel in preschoolers (PIP) trial: study protocol for a phase II ...

Emily L. Webb et al., Trials

The trial will provide valuable information on the safety and efficacy of the 80 mg/kg [praziquantel] PZQ dose in [preschool-aged children] PSAC, and on the impact of six-monthly versus annual treatment, in this vulnerable age group.

Epidemiological and clinical implications of asymptomatic malaria and schisto...

Edwin Kamau et al., BMC Infectious Diseases

Our study demonstrates the high burden of asymptomatic malaria parasitemia and schistosomiasis infection in this rural population in Western Kenya. . . evaluating for co-infections is key when assessing individuals with laboratory abnormalities.

Neurological impairment caused by Schistosoma mansoni systemic infection ...

Juciano Gasparotto et al., Journal of Biological Chemistry

These data demonstrate new perspectives toward the understanding of the pathology and possible therapeutic approaches to counteract long-term effects of systemic schistosomiasis on brain function.

We have started Part B of the Schistosomiasis Vaccine trial Protocol in Kasenyi

Jesca Nawatti, Makerere University Walter Reed Project

Towards the end of July, 2021 our Clinic Research team kicked off pre-screening activities for Schistosomiasis Part B Protocol, a randomized, controlled, double blind clinical trial assessing the safety, reactogenicity and immunogenicity of a candidate vaccine against intestinal schistosomiasis in healthy adult volunteers living in the S. Mansoni endemic areas. Part B of Schistosomiasis study is enrolling a total 200 adult (18 to 45 years) males and non-pregnant females with evidence of intestinal Schistosomiasis (S. Mansoni eggs in their stool) for the selected dose of vaccine combination.

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis

Modelling the ability of mass drug administration to interrupt soil-transmitted…

Nyuk Sian Chong, Stacey R. Smith, Marleen Werkma and Roy M. Anderson, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

Both models predict that the interruption of transmission is possible if the drug efficacy is sufficiently high, but STH infection remains endemic if the drug efficacy is sufficiently low. In between these two critical values, the two models produce different predictions. By applying an additional round of biannual and annual MDA, we find that interruption of transmission is likely to happen in both cases with lower drug efficacy.

Evaluation of mass drug administration for schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted…

Moussa Sangare et al., International Journal of Infectious Diseases

Data shows suitable coverage > 90% in contrast with lower rates initially reported. Inaccessibility and lack of awareness were the main reasons for missing MDA. Health workers suggested an increase to their incentives and motivations. This study raises questions about the effectiveness of the current strategy. These results raise concerns about the reliability of programmatic data.

Risk profiling and efficacy of albendazole against the hookworms Necator americ…

Vito Colella et al., The Lancet Regional Health Western Pacific

We revealed a substantial difference in cure rate of hookworm infection(s) following albendazole treatment using the SFF (81·5%) and mqPCR (46·4%) assays, and provide the first data on the efficacy of this drug against the zoonotic hookworm Ancylostoma ceylanicum. We estimated that as age increases by one year, the odds of being cured decreases by 0·4%–3·7%. Similarly, the odds of being cured for people who boiled drinking water was estimated to be between 1·02 and 6·82.

Prevalence of Intestinal Parasitic Infections among Children in Europe over the…

Maria Kantzanou et al., Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease

Despite the scarce literature, the present review showed relatively low prevalence rates of IPI in Europe. Future studies accounting for proper diagnostic methods used for the detection of parasites and including information on potential sociodemographic factors, such as travelling history and history of immigration, are needed to guide clinicians about which children to test, as well as when and how to test children for IPI.

Prevalence and risk factors of intestinal protozoan infection among symptomatic…

Soumia Sebaa, Jerzy M. Behnke, Djamel Baroudi, Ahcene Hakem and Marawan A. Abu-Madi, BMC Infectious Diseases

A highly significant difference of prevalence was found between symptomatic (82.3%) and asymptomatic subjects (14.9%), with the majority attributable to protozoan infection.

Asymptomatic Malaria and Helminths Coinfection and Its Association with Anemia …

Feven Wudneh, Yabibal Gebeyehu and Sara Anberbir, Journal of Tropical Medicine

Asymptomatic malaria and helminths coinfection affects the health status of considerable number of primary school children in the study area. Therefore, simultaneous combat against the two parasitic infections is crucial to improve health of the school children.

Deworming week targets 574,000 schoolchildren

World Health Organization Eastern Mediterranean

Deworming week from 30 August to 4 September is targeting 574,000 schoolchildren in 2,000 government and private schools, as well as Deeni Madaris, in Islamabad.

Trachoma

Clean toilets and constant supply of water reduce trachoma cases in Kitui County

Mercy Kahenda, The Standard (Kenya)

According to the 2019 Census, in 2012, only about 70 per cent of the households had toilets. Currently, total toilet coverage stands at 95 per cent. Mutisya added that in 2012, trachoma cases stood at 4,200, but drastically reduced to 1,800 and are currently below 1,000. The most affected areas include Mwingi North, Kitui Central, Kitui Rural and Mwingi Central. “We do not have active trachoma, which means the disease is no longer being transmitted. We are happy that we have successfully fought the disease that used to affect the elderly,” he said.

Blinding Trachoma, big threat to Nigeria’s poorest

Chika Onyesi, The Daily Post

‘‘At inception, about 30 million persons were at risk of going blind from trachoma in Nigeria but the risk has now been brought down to about 5 million, a reduction of 83%. He says the reduction was achieved following advocacy and implementation of WASH interventions, conducting surveillance surveys and performing Trichiasis surgeries. The target of the government is to reduce the active form of the disease to less than five percent in children aged 1-9 years and suppress the prevalence of the blinding stage of the infection to less than zero point two percent (0.2%)," Dr. Olobio informed.

Baseline Prevalence of Trachoma in Refugee Settlements in Uganda: Results of 11…

Gilbert Baayenda et al., Ophthalmic Epidemiology

A total of 40,892 people was examined across 11 EUs between 2018 and 2020. The prevalence of TF in 1–9-year-olds was <5% in all EUs surveyed. The prevalence of trachomatous trichiasis (TT) unknown to the health system in ≥15-year-olds was <0.2% in 5 out of 11 EUs surveyed and ≥0.2% in the remaining 6 EUs. A high proportion of households had improved water sources, but a low proportion had improved latrines or quickly (within a 30-minute return journey) accessible water sources. Implementation of the antibiotic, facial cleanliness and environmental improvement components of the SAFE strategy is not needed for the purposes of trachoma’s elimination as a public health problem in these refugee settlements; however, intervention with TT surgery is needed in six EUs.

The impact of access to water supply and sanitation on the prevalence of active…

Thomas Ayalew Abebe and Gudina Terefe Tucho, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

The study found strong evidence that lack of access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) was associated with increased prevalence of active trachoma among children. Therefore, a comprehensive and partnership-oriented program is needed to tackle the problem, but further study will be required to strengthen its implementation.

Implementing trachoma control programmes in marginalised populations in Tanzani…

Kaki Tsang, Gilles de Wildt, Upendo Mwingira, Tara B. Mtuy, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

NGOs should focus on behaviour change and health education that is tailored to marginalised communities and seek innovative ways to implement trachoma intervention programmes whilst being minimally intrusive to the traditional way of life. Partners should also implement ways to ensure high quality programmes are being provided, by increasing staff accountability and compensating volunteers fairly.

“I’m calling all women to work together and help people”

Sightsavers

Female case finders are vital when it comes to tackling the spread of trachoma, the world’s number one cause of blindness by infection. With a disease that disproportionately affects women, having other women on the frontline ensures that people are not left behind in the fight against diseases like trachoma. Here, case finder Aishatu Ahmed, from Bauchi state in Nigeria, tells her story.

 

Cross-cutting

Ghana launches new master plan for Neglected Tropical Diseases

Jonas Nyabor, Citi Newsroom (Ghana)

On Tuesday, August 24, 2021, the government through the Ghana Health Service and other stakeholders launched a new master plan to deal with Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) in the country.

Diagnostic testing holds the key to NTD elimination

Catharina Boehme, Sergio Carmona, Sarah Nogaro and Mwelecele Malecela, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

There is an urgent need for the development of new tools for those diseases for which no diagnostics currently exist and for improvement of existing diagnostics for the remaining diseases. . . Recognizing the pivotal role of diagnostic testing and the ambition of WHO, to move forward, we must create an ecosystem that prioritizes country-level action, collaboration, creativity, and commitment to new levels of visibility.

Towards a shared understanding of sustainability for neglected tropical disease…

Jeffrey Glenn et al., PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

This research resulted in a sustainability statement, based on a survey and extensive consultation with stakeholders, that represents a starting point for shared understanding around the concept of sustainability for NTD programs. Future collaborative work should build off this definition and seek to incorporate indicators for sustainability into programmatic decision-making.

Training videos from stool-based DNA extraction to qPCR reactions, qPCR analysi…

London Centre for Neglected Tropical Disease Research, YouTube

The videos are training guides and function as a basis for any stool-based molecular work. CLIP 1: Individual stool-based DNA extraction for the detection of STHs. CLIP 2: Primer, probe, master mix preparation & loading qPCR plate. CLIP 3: Preparing DNA standards and loading DNA samples on plate. CLIP 4: Setting up qPCR software and troubleshooting on older runs. CLIP 5: Python script for combining qPCR data in a master file.

The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and Crown Agents join forces to accel…

Crown Agents

Work is commencing on the new Accelerate Resilient, Innovative, and Sustainable Elimination of NTDs (ARISE-NTDs) programme this September to support governments to control and eliminate three endemic Neglected Tropical Diseases from Kenya, Mozambique, Uganda, Tanzania and Zanzibar, and Zambia. $13.8 million of emergency funding has been provided by The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) to combat schistosomiasis, soil transmitted helminths and lymphatic filariasis. Those affected by these debilitating vector-borne diseases are infected through water contact, mosquitos bites and poor sanitation and hygiene.

American Leprosy Missions Awards $41,000 for Innovation in NTDs

Sarah Hesshaus, American Leprosy Missions

This year American Leprosy Missions, in partnership with Novartis, awarded $40,000 to finalists in two domains: $20,000 to data and analytics finalists Dr. Amber Barton and Dr. Martin Holland from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, U.K. and another $20,000 to diagnostics finalist Dr. Temitope Agbana of the Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands.

Other

Mental health and quality of life burden in Buruli ulcer disease patients in Gh…

Yaw Ampem Amoako et al. , Infectious Diseases of Poverty

BUD [Buruli ulcer disease] is associated with significant mental health distress and reduced quality of life in affected persons and their caregivers in Ghana. There is a need for integration of psychosocial interventions in the management of the disease.

Reducing mosquito-borne disease transmission to humans: A systematic review of …

Jane Oliver et al. , PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

This literature review identified three intervention studies which did not include non-targeted use of insecticide and were associated with statistically significant reductions in the disease of interest and in entomological indicators following the intervention. High community engagement is vital for the success of a cluster randomised control study aiming to reduce mosquito-borne disease with a mosquito control intervention, such as breeding source reduction for Aedes control.

Quantifying conflict zones as a challenge to certification of Guinea worm eradi…

Kelly-Hope LA and Molyneux DH , BMJ Open

[The objective of the study was] to quantify conflict events and access across countries that remain to be certified free of transmission of Dracunculus medinensis (Guinea worm disease) or require postcertification surveillance as part of the Guinea Worm Eradication Programme (GWEP). Understanding the spatial–temporal patterns of conflict events, identifying hotspots, the actors responsible and their sphere of influence is critical for the GWEP and other public health programmes to develop practical risk assessments, deliver essential health interventions, implement innovative surveillance, determine certification and meet the goals of eradication.

Social determinants in the access to health care for Chagas disease: A qualitat…

I. Jimeno et al., PLOS One

The diverse perceptions and attitudes toward Chagas within families, including the denial of its existence, are remarkable as gender and ethnocultural aspects. Findings support recommendations to various stakeholders and translation materials.

Pyrrolidine-based 3-deoxysphingosylphosphorylcholine analogs as possible candid…

Ahmed H. E. Hassan et al. , Journal of Enzyme Inhibition and Medicinal Chemistry

Collectively, this study suggests compounds 1a and 1e as potential hit compounds for further development of new antileishmanial agents.

Socio-Ecological Systems Analysis and Health System Readiness in Responding to …

Leonard E. G. Mboera et al., Frontiers in Tropical Diseases

The two districts had limited readiness in the management and control of dengue, in terms of clinical competence, diagnostic capacities, surveillance system and prevention and control measures. These challenges require the immediate attention by the authorities, as they compromise the effectiveness of the national strategy for community health support.

Target product profile for a test for rhodesiense human African trypanosomiasis…

World Health Organization

Several tools are available or in the pipeline for the screening and diagnosis of gHAT, but similar tools for rHAT are either totally missing or losing ground in the evolving context. A simple test for rHAT would facilitate the control and surveillance of the disease. In addition to faster prescription of a treatment, it may also help in capturing more information on the occurrence of rHAT transmission, hence recovering the loss of surveillance capacity and possibly strengthening it beyond the previous levels.

Scientists use gene editing tool to target mosquito-spread disease

Phys Org

A new gene editing tool has been successfully applied to the southern house mosquito by researchers at the BBSRC-funded Pirbright Institute. This paves the way for genetic control methods that could prevent the mosquito from spreading human and animal diseases.

The FDA does not list male sterility as one of the side effects of ivermectin

Andy Nguyen, Poynter

Ivermectin is the latest drug being floated as a treatment against the coronavirus despite warnings from public health authorities and a lack of evidence that it works. But a claim circulating on Facebook says the anti-parasitic drug has the side effect of sterilizing men who take it. . . While the FDA has identified several potential side effects of ivermectin, including nausea, vomiting and dizziness, infertility in men is not listed.

COVID-19

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on seven neglected tropical diseases: a model-b…

World Health Organization

Delays in mass drug administration (MDA) and active case-finding activities due to COVID-19 will generally lead to a resurgence in neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) for which these interventions are an important part of the public health approach. More time and greater total numbers of rounds of MDA are likely to be needed to reach agreed public health targets for these NTDs. Schistosomiasis, trachoma and visceral leishmaniasis (in high transmission settings for each) are the NTDs for which the models suggest that remedial strategies are most likely to be needed. Once programmes can resume community-based interventions, modelling analyses suggest that proposed remedial strategies may help to get progress towards 2030 targets back on track.

Fact Check-2015 Nobel Prize for ivermectin intended for treatment of parasitic …

Reuters

Social media users claim that the drug Ivermectin is safe to use as it received the Nobel Prize in 2015. While it did win the prize, this was for parasitic infections and it does not mean the drug is a safe or effective drug in the treatment of COVID-19, a virus.

Worms can affect vaccine efficacy: lessons for COVID-19?

Justin Komguep Nono and Fungai Musaigwa, The Conversation

Research – on both animal models and human studies – suggests that chronic schistosomiasis infection can result in decreased vaccine efficacy.

The fight against COVID-19 should not cloud the burden of African endemic disea…

Aderinto Nicholas, Face 2 Face Africa

Unless control programs are restored quickly, disease transmission and burden will progressively return to the pre-control level during this break-in intervention. Hence, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has direct and indirect impacts on NTDs, and these are likely to revert progress made over the past 10 to 15 years.

UPCOMING EVENTS

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

Challenges of expanding access to health products in the fight against NTDs
September 13, 2021
Japan Alliance on Global NTDs

Biological control of schistosomiasis: potential, evidence and the way forward
September 14, 2021
ISNTD Connect

A new Snakebite Information & Data Platform to engage and empower communities
September 15, 2021
World Health Organization

The movement to eliminate NTDs: Successes & challenges of a foundation in compassion
September 22, 2021
FACE and WHO Global Learning Laboratory

Putting Schistosomiasis Precision Mapping into Practice
September 22, 2021
COR-NTD

Leveraging New Technology and Methods to Diagnose NTDs
September 23-24, 2021
COR-NTD

12th European Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health
September 26-October 1, 2021

Improving the Patient’s Journey: The Impact and Efficacy of Training Tools for NTDs
September 27, 2021
COR-NTD

Monitoring Transmission of NTDs
September 30, 2021
COR-NTD

Strengthening the collection, analysis and use of data to accelerate global progress in the elimination of Chagas disease
October 5, 2021
COR-NTD

RSTMH Annual Meeting 2021 – drug resistant infections: causes, consequences and considerations
October 11-12, 2021
The Royal Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene

COR-NTD 2021 Virtual Meeting
November 8-10, 2021
Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases

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

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

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

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