Category Archives: NTDs

Parliamentarians Prioritize Global Health Innovation in the European Parliament

 

The following is a guest blog post from Andrea Corazza, European Advocacy Officer, Global Health Advocates*

Through its policies, legislation and bilateral/regional trade agreements, the European Union (EU) has a major impact on global health both in terms of research and development (R&D) of new and improved medicines for Poverty-Related and Neglected Diseases[1] (PRNDs) and their accessibility to populations in developing countries.

To ensure that EU policies deliver a coherent, comprehensive and pro-active response to address these issues, Global Health Advocates and the Médecins Sans Frontières Access Campaign created the European Parliament Working Group on Innovation, Access to Medicines and Poverty-Related Diseases together with Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) back in 2009.

This Working Group provides a platform to ensure that global health issues remain high on the EU agenda and to advocate for the adoption of EU policies that stimulate innovation for urgently-needed health tools and improve access to existing medicines, diagnostics and vaccines. The working group regularly organises high-level events, meetings and occasionally field visits for MEPs, EU institutions’ staff and parliamentarians from African, Caribbean and Pacific countries to show, among others, the impact of R&D gaps on the health of populations in developing countries and foster the understanding of decision-makers on these issues.

Following recent elections at the European Parliament in May 2014, the Working Group, which gathers about 300 members from a broad range of stakeholders, is renewing its membership to bring additional energy and commitment to its work and activities. Former members have testified about the importance of the Group and are inviting new MEPs to join  via this short and inspiring video:

Both Horizon 2020, the EU €70 billion Research and Innovation Programme, and the continuation of the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), a partnership between the European Commission and several European and African countries, present great opportunities to increase the EU’s contribution towards research and innovation for PRNDs in the coming years. By raising the profile of these issues, contributing to annual budget negotiations and using their power of scrutiny over EU policies, members of the Working Group will play a crucial role in ensuring that EU institutions are engaged in the fight against PRNDs both politically and financially.

To join the Working Group or for further information, please send an email to ep-accessgroup@msf.org

*Global Health Advocates is a non-governmental organisation based in Paris and Brussels that advocates for policy change at the highest political level and mobilizes resources to tackle major health threats and build sustainable health systems.


[1] As intended here, PRNDs include the three big diseases of poverty (HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria) and the 17 Neglected Tropical Diseases recognized by the World Health Organization.

Ghana Launches NTD Master Plan, Mass Drug Administration Campaign, Celebrates Billionth NTD Treatment

 

The Global Network is happy to share END in Africa’s announcement congratulating Ghana on the launch of its NTD master plan and and 2014 strategic mass drug administration campaign. View the original post here

On Thursday, July 3, 2014, the Government of Ghana launched both its Ghana Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) master plan and its 2014 strategic mass drug administration (MDA) campaign, while also celebrating the One Billionth NTD Treatment delivered globally with USAID support. USAID funds the END in Africa project, which supports Ghana Health Services (GHS) and the Ghana’s NTD program in providing medicines that protect 26.3 million Ghanaians from contracting NTDs such as trachoma, onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminths.

Ghana Minister of Health Hon. Sherry Ayittey with Queen Mothers from the Greater Accra Region

Ghana Minister of Health Hon. Sherry Ayittey with Queen Mothers from the Greater Accra Region at Ghana NTD Master Plan and 2014 MDA Campaign Launch. Photo: FHI360

At a colorful event at Accra’s La Beach Hotel today, Ghana’s Minister of Health Hon. Sherry Ayittey presided over the launch of the country’s NTD master plan and 2014 MDA campaign. Along with Acting Director of USAID/Ghana Peter Trenchard, the Hon. Minister Ayittey presented certificates and awards to Community Health Volunteer Madam Mary Becheyiri and NTD Program Technical Officer Mr. Alhassan Ahmed, who represented the many thousands of unsung heroes in Ghana’s NTD elimination and control efforts.

Ghana Minister of Health Hon. Sherry Ayittey and USAID/Ghana Acting Director Andrew Karas Present Award to Community Health Volunteer Madam Mary Becheyiri, who was selected as one of Ghana's NTD unsung heroes

Ghana Minister of Health Hon. Sherry Ayittey and USAID/Ghana Acting Director Peter Trenchard Present Award to Community Health Volunteer Madam Mary Becheyiri, who was selected as one of Ghana’s NTD unsung heroes. Photo: FHI360

Under the direction of Rebecca Ackwonu, Public Relations Officer for the Director General of the GHS and Master of Ceremonies for today’s event, a symbolic MDA took place, led by a community health volunteer. The event was chaired by Nii La Mantse, a paramount chief of La, where the event took place.

Also in attendance were Acting Director of USAID’s Ghana Mission Peter Trenchard, Queen mothers from the Greater Accra Region, Director General of the Ghana Health Service Dr. Ebenezar Appiah-Denkyira, Ghana NTD Programme Manager Dr. Nana Kwadwo Biritwum, as well as many other directors and programme managers from the Ghana Health Service. NTD partners from organizations such as END in Africa, FH1360, the Volta River Authority, the Partnership for Child Development, Liverpool Centre for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD), Sight Savers Ghana, the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) were also represented.

For an overview of the day’s activities, see the Ghana Event Program Agenda.

Read the story on the event published in Ghana’s Daily Graphic Newspaper.

A Comprehensive Analysis of Soil-Transmitted Helminths in Honduras

 

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Honduras became the first country in Latin America and the Caribbean to launch its national and integrated plan addressing neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in April 2012; however, information gaps regarding the prevalence and intensity of soil-transmitted helminth (STH or intestinal worm) infections remained. The first comprehensive historic review of soil-STH prevalence and research studies done in Honduras was recently published – the information analyzed and presented in the new article will be instrumental in the successful implementation of the country’s national plan on NTDs.

The article, titled “A Scoping Review and Prevalence Analysis of Soil-Transmitted Helminth Infections in Honduras,” was published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. Sabin Vaccine Institute’s Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi, herself a Honduran and Deputy Director of Sabin’s Product Development Partnership, is one of the authors.

As part of their efforts, the researchers conducted a review of hundreds of studies dating back to May 1930, some of which had not been published. Using studies published between 2001 and 2012 that included epidemiological data from Honduras’ 18 departments, the researchers were able to produce STH prevalence maps. The researchers included the most recent information available after consulting with various groups involved in STH control activities, including the Ministry of Health, the Healthy Schools Program, the Parasitology Department of the School of Microbiology (part of the National Autonomous University of Honduras, UNAH), the World Food Program and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

The results from their review are astounding – the researchers found that the prevalence of STH in 40.6 percent of the municipalities in Honduras is greater than 50 percent. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends mass drug administration (MDA) campaigns to take place, without previous diagnosis, once a year in communities with STH prevalence over 20 percent, and twice a year in communities with STH prevalence over 50 percent. This strategy not only reduces the morbidity and the intensity of infection on those already infected with this NTD, but it also helps protect the entire community from further infection.

The researchers also found that the STH prevalence was higher in municipalities with a lower socioeconomic status – those characterized by having a lower human development index and less access to safe drinking water or improved sanitation.

The Sabin Vaccine Institute’s Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases recently traveled to Honduras and witnessed the effects of intestinal worms on some of Honduras’ poorest communities, including those in the department of Choluteca. After speaking with a head teacher at Escuela Urbana Mixta Pedro Nufio (1st to 6th grade), we learned that 880 students attending the school were at risk for intestinal worms.

View photos from the trip below:

Children in Choluteca and across Honduras are being treated annually for intestinal worms thanks to Honduras’ national plan of action against NTDs. However, many children are still heavily infected. For example, some students in Choluteca expelled worms through their mouth and nose after receiving treatment – a sign of heavy infection.

However, progress is being made and the deworming of preschool children has been institutionalized as part of national vaccination week activities in the country.  Honduras is continuing to lead in one of the fundamental components in the fight against NTDs: integration with infrastructure improvements in water and sanitation, supported by community education campaigns. This type of cross-sectoral integration will bring us closer to achieving the NTD 2020 control and elimination goals set by the WHO Roadmap.

We look forward to sharing stories of how the government of Honduras and its partners use the findings from this study to successfully implement their national plan on NTDs! We invite you to follow Dr. Bottazzi (@mebottazzi) and the PLOS NTDs journal (@PLOSNTDs) on Twitter, to keep up with new developments in the NTD field.

2014 FIFA World Cup Round of 16: Celebrating World Cup Teams Fighting NTDs

 

For one month, countries around the world are gathering to watch arguably the greatest sporting event in the world—the World Cup. Every four years, people from around the world come together to celebrate this epic event that transcends political turmoil, and even wars and conflict. In this time of celebration, we’re taking the time to recognize the World Cup teams advancing to the prestigious Round of 16! In particular, we’re highlighting the progress their countries have made in controlling and eliminating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

Brazil

brazilThe hosting nation of Brazil is being tagged as the favorite to win it all. If they do, the Brazilian National Soccer team would have a mind-blowing six World Cup trophies! While Brazil is famous for its passion and love for soccer, Brazil is also gaining public health recognition by taking concrete steps towards eliminating NTDs in their country.  In Brazil, nearly 6.8 million people are infected with schistosomiasis and millions are at risk for other common NTDs. To address this problem, Brazil has launched an integrated National Plan of Action for NTDs to combat all seven of the most common NTDs. Last year, the Brazilian Ministry of Health led a campaign to diagnose and treat leprosy and intestinal worms in 9.2 million public schools.

argentinaArgentina

With Argentina having arguably the best player in the world, Lionel Messi, the country’s hopes of winning the World Cup are high. Over the last four years, Argentina made tremendous progress towards preventing NTDs such as Chagas disease and intestinal parasites in at risk populations. In 2011, the Government of Argentina launched the National Institute for Tropical Medicine in an effort to advance NTD research and finding new solutions for lowering the prevalence of NTDs in at risk regions in Argentina.

colombiaColombia

The Colombian National Soccer team had been M.I.A. (missing in action) in World Cup action for the past 15 years. This year, Los Cafeteros has ended its long hiatus and is finally back on the World Cup stage. While the national team was working hard towards getting to this year’s World Cup, their country was busy accomplishing major NTD elimination goals. In 2011, Colombia became the first country in the Latin America region to eliminate onchocerciasis—a great milestone for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Nigeria

nigeriaNigeria’s Supereagles has always had high expectations when entering the World Cup—and rightfully so. The Nigerian National Soccer Team is one of the very few African teams that has ever reached the second round of the knockout stage (Ghana, Senegal, Cameroon, Morocco are the only other teams). Nigeria is known for meeting expectations when it comes to controlling NTDs. This year, Nigeria achieved a major milestone in its fight against NTDs by launching Africa’s first integrated malaria and lymphatic filariasis (LF) elimination plan. Nigeria’s Ministry of Health has also reached 96 percent of communities with onchocerciasis mass drug administrations and is currently scaling up school-based deworming campaigns.

mexicoMexico

Mexico’s prized forward—Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez from Manchester United—hopes to transform the Mexican National Soccer Team into a serious contender in this year’s World Cup. Mexico has also taken serious strides in preventing NTDs by nearly eliminating onchocerciaisis and trachoma in their country. In 2011, Mexico launched a campaign to treat the last trachoma endemic state—Chiapas. Soon, Mexico hopes to become one of four countries in the region to eliminate trachoma.

costa ricaCosta Rica

In 1990, Costa Rica shocked the world by advancing into the knockout stage. This year, Costa Rica has surprised the world again by advancing into the Round of 16! Costa Rica has already put the global health world on notice by working to receive a certification by the World Health Organization (WHO) stating that they’ve successfully stopped transmission of lymphatic filariasis (LF).

On behalf of END7, we’d like to thank these countries on their continued effort towards eliminating NTDs and wish them the best of luck in this year’s World Cup!