Request for proposals: New diagnostics for schistosomiasis monitoring and evaluation

Sections

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.

Background

NTDs are a diverse group of 20 diseases that affect more than 2 billion people in 149 countries. People affected by these diseases suffer from significant long-term disabilities such as visual, physical or cognitive impairments, social stigma, and sometimes even death. NTDs often prevent people from working or attending school, thus costing developing economies billions of dollars annually.

Some NTDs (including schistosomiasis) can be controlled through the annual administration of preventive chemotherapy to the entire eligible at-risk population via mass drug administration (MDA). For these diseases, control/elimination programs are based on a four-stage process:

  • Mapping disease prevalence to determine if treatment is warranted and where it is needed
  • Monitoring prevalence levels during treatment
  • Stopping or reducing the frequency of treatment once prevalence has declined below a defined threshold
  • Surveillance to ensure that disease prevalence does not increase again after a change in treatment frequency.

At each stage of this process, programs rely on the availability of accurate diagnostic tests and tools to make important decisions.  Traditionally, schistosomiasis programs have relied on parasitological techniques for mapping disease distribution and for monitoring the progress of MDA. However, as programs progress, prevalence declines and the need for improved diagnostics comes into much sharper focus. The NTD community has traditionally underinvested in the development and improvement of diagnostic tests and tools with the result that the currently available diagnostic tools are not capable of fully supporting the needs of late-stage control/elimination programs.

To address this critical gap, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched a Diagnostics Technical Advisory Group (DTAG) which was tasked with reviewing and prioritizing diagnostic needs for NTD programs, defining use cases and target product profiles (TPPs) for needed tools, working with national NTD programs and implementing partners to support test development and validation, and providing WHO with guidance and recommendations on adoption of new tools. Disease-specific DTAG subgroups have now developed TPPs and use-case analyses that can be used by product developers to understand the specific needs and contexts of NTD programs.

 

Scope

In order to decide when mass treatment is warranted or whether treatment frequency should change, NTD control/elimination programs use population-based surveys to show that disease prevalence in a given area is likely above or below a certain threshold. The main strategy for schistosomiasis control is based on MDA of praziquantel to primary school age children, and in certain regions, high-risk adults as well. The working guidance for control programs is that communities with ≥ 10% prevalence among primary school age children should receive annual MDA.

The goal of this RFP is to produce diagnostics tools that reliably measure when prevalence is above or below a cutoff of 10% parasite prevalence in school age children. Communities remaining above 10% require annual MDA while communities below 10% that are not seeking elimination of transmission can reduce MDA frequency as long as < 10% prevalence can be maintained. However, the current lack of an accurate, sensitive and scalable test has hindered the development of strategies to achieve and maintain the goals of eliminating schistosomiasis as a public health problem. The test is also needed to track changes of prevalence above 10% to ensure that annual MDA is reducing overall prevalence. In some areas with a higher force of transmission, annual MDA is not sufficient to reduce baseline prevalence and more frequent MDA or additional interventions should be employed. But again, lack of a cost-effective, accurate and sensitive test has hindered the definition strategies that are consistently effective in high transmission areas.

Proposals can address tests and tools used previously in the global health context or new products which have never been tested before. Proposals must align with the needs and contexts outlined by DTAG SCH M&E TPP

 

Proposal review process overview

Proposals in line with the scope of this RFP will be reviewed by a panel of objective reviewers from the NTD Support Center, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USAID, World Health Organization and other partner organizations based on how well they address these criteria:

Technical merit

Proposals must be technically sound, well written, with clear objectives and contextual evidence justifying the proposed research

Proposals must address schistosomiasis

Alignment with programmatic needs

Proposals must align with the needs identified in the TPP and use case documents

Scalability and Potential for impact

Proposed research must have the potential to improve community-based surveys to support decision making as described in the use case document

Proposals should make consideration for how the research/innovations have potential for impact at scale

Proposals should outline plans for knowledge dissemination and next steps

 

Sustainability

Proposed research should lead to new tools that can realistically be made available to national NTD programs with or without external funding

Projected costs

Proposals must take into account the cost requirements outlined by the TPPs

 All proposals must demonstrate value for money and follow the budget guidance provided

 

Award Information

Submissions will be accepted from both U.S.-based and international institutions (private and public).

 

Maximum duration: 12 months

 

Number of anticipated awards:  2-4

 

Maximum total funding available for all funded projects: $500,000

 

Submission Instructions

All proposals must be submitted using the following web formhttps://app.smartsheet.com/b/form/b6296196174f404b86f71587ec72acaf 

Submissions should include the following documents:

  • Study protocol
  • Study budget:
  • Budget narrative
  • Project timeline
  • Relevant supporting documents (additional background information, references, theory of change/conceptual framework, documentation of national per diem, etc)

Submissions must be received by January 31, 2022 in order to be considered. For questions concerning this RFP, please contact Ashley Souza (asouza [at] taskforce.org)