In this interview, Dr. John Amuasi, MBChB, MPH, MS, PhD discusses the impetus and hopes for the African Researchers’ Small Grants Program – an effort supported by the African Research Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (ARNTD), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases (COR-NTD).
As ARNTD’s Executive Director, Dr. Amuasi led the charge for the creation of the new funding program, which supported the work of six early and mid-career researchers based in Africa to tackle barriers to the control and elimination of neglected tropical diseases, or NTDs, in their home countries. The selected researchers are based in Cameroon, Nigeria, Tanzania and Togo, and their work focuses on all five of the NTDs addressed by preventive chemotherapy, or PC-NTDs.
This interview took place on November 4, at the fifth annual COR-NTD Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland.
Schistosomiasis is a disease of poverty, caused by infection with trematode parasites belonging to the genus Schistosoma. The Nigerian National Control Programme (NCP) for schistosomiasis does not have a specific action plan for female genital schistosomiasis (FGS), mainly due to gaps in epidemiological and clinical surveillance. This paper documents pilot surveys of female genital schistosomiasis in girls between 5 and 15, and women from 16 years in four rural communities near Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Filoviruses represent a significant public health threat worldwide. West Africa recently experienced the largest-scale and most complex filovirus outbreak yet known, which underlines the need for a predictive understanding of the geographic distribution and potential for transmission to humans of these viruses. Here, we used ecological niche modeling techniques to understand the relationship between known filovirus occurrences and environmental characteristics. Our study derived a picture of the potential transmission geography of Ebola virus species and Marburg, paired with views of the spatial uncertainty associated with model-to-model variation in our predictions.
Rift Valley Fever is an acute zoonotic viral disease caused by Rift Valley Fever virus (RVFV)
that affects ruminants and humans in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. We used phylogenetic analyses to understand the demographic history of RVFV populations, using sequence data from the three minigenomic segments of the virus. We used phylogeographic approaches to infer RVFV historical movement patterns across its geographic range, and to reconstruct transitions among host species.
The Americas are presently experiencing the most serious known outbreak of Zika virus (ZIKV). Here, we present a novel set of analyses using environmental characteristics, vector mosquito distributions, and socioeconomic risk factors to develop the first map to detail global ZIKV transmission risk in multiple dimensions based on ecological niche models. Our model predictions were tested against independent evaluation data sets, and all models had predictive ability significantly better than random expectations. The study addresses urgent knowledge gaps regarding the potential geographic scope of the current ZIKV epidemic, the global potential for spread of ZIKV, and drivers of ZIKV transmission. Our analysis of potential drivers of ZIKV distributions globally identified areas vulnerable in terms of some drivers, but not for others. The results of these analyses can guide regional education and preparedness efforts, such that medical personnel will be better prepared for diagnosis of potential ZIKV cases as they appear.
Plasmodium vivax has the broadest geographic distribution worldwide, and is a rising issue outside sub-Saharan Africa. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than a third of the world’s population, mostly in Asia and Latin America, is at risk of P. vivax malaria infection. In 2013, this parasite was responsible for more than one million cases in four countries (Ethiopia, India, Indonesia and Pakistan).
Schistosomiasis remains a public health challenge with over 600 million people at risk of infection worldwide. Te transmission of the disease is linked to contact with infected water bodies such as rivers, streams, pools and lakes containing cercaria in endemic communities.
Schisto and Ladders™ game is a board game designed from the popular Snake and Ladders game. The game aims to elicit positive behavioural changes in players by informing and educating the players about schistosomiasis, its transmission, control, and prevention. The game is based on the concept of reward for good health behaviours by moving up a ladder and punishment for risky health behaviours by being bitten by the Schistosoma worm. The game has several health education messages presented in the children-friendly pictorial
The ARNTD is pleased to profile Dr. Eduardo Samo Gudo Jr. as the second personality in a new series aimed at promoting the visibility of ARNTD members, their research activities and collaborations.
Dr. Eduardo Samo Gudo Jr. graduated in 2003 as a medical doctor at the Faculty of Medicine of the Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique, and worked as a researcher in Immunology, at the National Institute of Health at Ministry of Health in Mozambique. He graduated with a PhD in Immunology in 2012 from Oswaldo Cruz Institute, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He was awarded a junior post-doctoral fellowship by the European Foundation Initiative for African Research into Neglected Tropical Diseases (EFINTD) from 2012 to 2015. He currently holds a senior post-doctoral position with the EFINTD which will terminate in 2018.
Combatting Neglected Tropical Diseases - Now, ARNTD Executive Director contributes article to G20 Foundation's latest publication
Unlike other diseases of global health importance such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, Ebola etc., Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are not “a disease” but “a complex constellation of diseases”. The diseases labelled as NTDs are often curable and preventable, however they become complicated on account of their far reaching cumulative negative effect they have on individuals and societies. The World has recognized how NTDs are a major impediment to development and the fight against poverty, reflected in the prominence given to NTDs in the G7 agenda in Germany 2015 and in Japan 2016, and to specific inclusion of NTDs within the health targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015.
In combatting NTDs, multi-level interventions across public and private sectors, involving local (community), intergovernmental and international stakeholders have been funded over the past decade since the London Declaration on NTDs and the launch of the WHO Roadmap in 2012.
Six African Scientists Receive Inaugural Grants for Operational Research on NTDs
The first-ever grantees of the African Researchers’ Small Grants program were announced by the African Research Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (ARNTD), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases (COR-NTD). The winners, selected from a pool of nearly 100 applicants, will receive support to conduct operational research to address issues facing efforts to control and eliminate neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in their home countries of Cameroon, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Togo.
“The Small Grants Program provides USAID with the opportunity to invest in young researchers and the next generation of leaders in Africa,” said Emily Wainwright, Chief, Neglected Tropical Diseases Division, USAID.
Nairobi, Kenya- The Governing Council of the African Academy of Science (AAS) has appointed Dr Tom Kariuki as Interim Executive Director, to serve from 7 March 2017 until a new Executive Director is selected.
Dr Kariuki is an immunologist of distinction, Fellow of the AAS and one who has served as AAS Treasurer from 2013-2014 prior to assuming his position as the Director of the AAS/NEPAD Agency’s agenda setting and funding platform – Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA).
The African Academy of Sciences (AAS) announced today that it has selected 22 early career scientists through a merit based review process for the second cohort of the AAS Affiliates Programme that recognises exceptional young scholars.
The 22 were selected from the five regions of Africa to be AAS Affiliates from 2017 to 2021. “These young scholars have shown promise in their fields and are deserving of the recognition,” said AAS Executive Director Prof Berhanu Abegaz. “We will work with their institutions to provide them with opportunities to develop their careers and to leverage their skills and passion to contribute to Africa’s development.”
The University of Tübingen has set up its first professorship in an African country. The post is sponsored by the German government-financed German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) and backed by the government of Gabon. The new professor will be based at the Centre de Recherches Médicales de Lambaréné (CERMEL) in Gabon and focus on immuno-epidemiology and clinical infection research in the tropics. Dr. Ayola Akim Adegnika has been appointed to the post for an initial five year period. Dr. Adegnika is currently co-director at CERMEL in the Gabonese town of Lambaréné, some 240km southeast of the capital Libreville.
The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) is delighted to announce the honorary appointment of Louis-Albert Tchuem Tchuenté as an NTD Ambassador.
Louis-Albert is a highly regarded senior academician and researcher who is well placed to advocate for NTD donors, governments and organizations to maintain, and increase, their commitments to achieve the World Health Organization’s Roadmap goals.
Louis-Albert will work to raise the profile of NTDs among policymakers, media and general public of the plight faced by people afflicted by them, and the importance in controlling and preventing NTDs.
About Neglected Tropical Diseases
Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a diverse group of communicable diseases that prevail in tropical and subtropical conditions in 149 countries and affect more than one billion people, costing developing economies billions of dollars every year. They mainly affect populations living in poverty, without adequate sanitation and in close contact with infectious vectors and domestic animals and livestock.
Effective control against NTDs can be achieved when several public health approaches are combined. Interventions are therefore guided by local epidemiology and availability of appropriate detection, prevention and control measures that can be delivered locally. Implementation of appropriate measures with high coverage will lead to achieving the WHO NTD Roadmap targets resulting in the elimination of many diseases and the eradication of at least two by 2020.
In May 2013, the 66th World Health Assembly resolved to intensify and integrate measures against neglected tropical diseases and to plan investments to improve the health and social well-being of affected populations. WHO is working with Member States to ensure the implementation of resolution WHA66.12.