The 11th Annual Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) Conference held in Nairobi on December 6 and 7, 2017, brought together over 140 health professionals, including researchers, policy makers, implementers and other stakeholders from Africa, North America and Asia, to discuss current health challenges, review progress, exchange new knowledge and chart the way forward in the research and control of NTDs in Kenya and the African region as a whole. The conference is jointly organized by the Kenyan Ministry of Health’s Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) Control Program and the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) with support from CBM International, LSTM, WHO, The Fred Hollows Foundation and Evidence Action, and the African Research Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (ARNTD). The Conference was co-chaired by Dr. Sultani Matendechero (Head of NTD Program, MoH), Dr. Maurice Odiere (Head of NTD Unit at KEMRI’s Centre for Global Health Research) and Dr. Doris Njomo (KEMRI ESACIPAC) who are all members of ARNTD.
The theme for this year’s conference was “Partnership towards achievement of the global goals for control, elimination and eradication of Neglected Tropical Diseases”. Sub-themes that were deliberated upon included: Preventive Chemotherapy & Transmission Control, Innovative and Intensified Disease Management, Vector Ecology and Management, Neglected Zoonotic Diseases, and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. The conference received over 70 abstracts from a wide disease profile, including but not limited to Leishmaniasis, Lymphatic filariasis, Trachoma, Soil-transmitted helminthiasis, Podoconiosis, Guinea worm, Echinostomosis, Leprosy, Snake bite, Schistosomiasis, Rabies, West Nile Virus, Echinococcosis, Dengue virus, Fascioliasis and Tungiasis (jiggers).
The plenary covered six (6) key scientific sessions (Basic Sciences, Epidemiology and Public Health, Operational Research & Control Programs, Health Behavioral Studies and Social Sciences, Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH) and Zoonosis/One Health) with a variety of oral and poster presentations, as well as a wide display of exhibitions from partners and sponsors. Keynote speakers included Prof. Eric Fevre, a Professor of Veterinary Infectious Diseases at the Institute of Infection and Global Health (IGH), University of Liverpool and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Nairobi; Prof. Thumbi Mwangi (KEMRI-Washington State University), Dr. Ruth Chunge (Co-Director, Centre for Tropical and Travel Medicine), Dr. John Amuasi (Executive Director, African Research Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (ARNTD), Dr. Robert Harisson (Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine) and Mr. Alex Mwaki (Country Director, SWAP Kenya).
Over the years, the conference has set a tradition of honoring the conference presenters in various categories. Researchers whose contributions were recognized and awarded at this year’s event included: Dr. Getrude Nasike (Best oral presentation) from Lodwar County and Referral Hospital, Kenya, for her presentation on ‘Characteristics of Visceral leishmaniasis patients attending Namouruputh dispensary Jan 2015 – Sep 2017’; Akbar Ganatra (Best Poster presentation) from ICIPE for his poster titled ‘A risk factor study for the prediction of the distribution of Schistosoma host snails in freshwater habitats in western Kenya’ and Edna Ondari (Best Young Scientist) from Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases, Singapore and Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Switzerland for her presentation on ‘Immunopotentiation of the host innate response against dengue virus by a nucleoside analogue inhibitor’.