Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a group of disabling, disfiguring, and often life-threatening diseases affecting more than one billion people worldwide living on less than USD 1.25 a day.
Beyond their negative impact on health, NTDs contribute to an ongoing cycle of poverty and stigma that leaves people unable to work, go to school or participate in family and community life. While the neglect has persisted at all levels, in recent years the international community has come together and declared renewed enthusiasm to control and finally eliminate NTDs. Several individuals, groups and NGOs in Europe and North America are now dedicated to lobbying for support for NTD control and elimination.
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2015 was divided, one half jointly to William C. Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura “for their discoveries concerning a novel therapy against infections caused by roundworm parasites” and the other half to Youyou Tu “for her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against Malaria“.
The prestigious international weekly interdisciplinary scientific journal – Nature, has published an article featuring Tom Kariuki, a Kenyan immunologist and founding member of ARNTD, who has been tapped to lead a new funding platform for African research. The Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa – AESA, will be operating from the headquarters of the African Academy of Sciences in Nairobi. AESA’s aim is to strengthen African science and researchers, as well as to shift the centre of gravity for African funding decisions from London, Seattle and Geneva etc. to the continent. Three international funding bodies (the Wellcome Trust, the UK Department for International Development, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) are supporting the initiative for the start up with a seed cash of around USD 5.5 million. However in the longer term AESA is counting on the participation of African governments to support research in their own countries.
To read the full article in Nature, visit: http://www.nature.com/news/african-hub-set-up-to-boost-research-autonomy-1.17272
Pauline Mwinzi and Uwem Ekpo; ARNTD Chair and Management Board member respectively, have together with other scientists published a systematic review in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal examining the spatial distribution of schistosomiasis and treatment needs in sub-Saharan Africa. Using Bayesian geostatistical meta-analysis methods and taking environmental and socioeconomic variables into consideration, they predicted schistosomiasis infection risk and calculated the number of doses of praziquantel needed for prevention of morbidity. The work of these scientists is expected to inform the spatial targeting of schistosomiasis control interventions and also has the potential to inform policy makers on the number of treatments needed at different health administrative levels in endemic countries.
Lai, Ying-Si, Patricia Biedermann, Uwem F Ekpo, Amadou Garba, Els Mathieu, Nicholas Midzi, Pauline Mwinzi, et al. 2015. “Spatial Distribution of Schistosomiasis and Treatment Needs in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Systematic Review and Geostatistical Analysis.” The Lancet Infectious Diseases, May. http://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(15)00066-3