Activities of the DNTDs

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Building capacity and infrastructure in science and research to combat neglected tropical diseases

Berlin, 17.10.2023 - At this year's World Health Summit 2023, the DNTD's focus was on discussing capacity and infrastructure building for science and research in countries where neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are endemic. The focus was on collaborations, joint approaches and setting research priorities to combat NTDs by universities, civil society organisations and the private sector.

Dr Ibrahima Socé Fall, Director Global Programmes on Neglected Tropical Diseases, World Health Organization (WHO) pointed out that effective NTD interventions require well-structured applied research studies coordinated with other research areas to build a solid foundation for implementing the NTD Roadmap 2021-2030.

Dr Michael Makanga, Executive Director, European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) emphasised that capacity in the fight against neglected infectious diseases depends highly on the development of local scientific excellence and leadership. Gender equity is a very important challenge. Investment would need to be made in multidisciplinary research teams with diverse talents, engaged in locally relevant research and enriched by international collaboration. (see slides)

Prof. Francine Ntoumi, President and Director-General, Congolese Foundation for Medical Research (FCRM) described the research network CANTAM (Central African Network on Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and Malaria). Since 2021, NTDs, among others, have been included in this EU-funded research programme, EDCTP. By expanding laboratories at different locations, a common platform has been created to support the training of PhD students. As a second example, she spoke about research to combat schistosomiasis in school children and pregnant women at the Centre de Recherches Médicales de Lambaréné (CERMEL) in Gabon. (see slides)

Martin Bergfelder, Head of International Health Policy Unit, Federal Foreign Office presented the German-West African Centre for Global Health and Pandemic Prevention, which has been established since 2021 within the framework of a DAAD funding programme Global Centres for Health and Pandemic Prevention. The partner country is Ghana, where trans- and interdisciplinary research projects are being established. The focus is on the One Health approach, among other things, as pandemics often arise from human intrusion into wildlife reservoirs and contact with pathogens. The reason is often extensive agriculture. Climate change can also be a trigger. The programme includes PhD programmes and scholarships, as well as courses on pandemic prevention and preparedness.

Félix Calderón, Research Director, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) presented the research centre of the Tres Cantos Open Lab Foundation (TCOLF) near Madrid, which offers researchers the opportunity to conduct research at the Open Lab on neglected tropical diseases, among others. Independent scientists will have access to GSK's R&D facilities, resources and expertise to advance their own research into drugs for endemic infectious diseases. Tres Cantos Open Lab Foundation acts independently of GSK and is not-for-profit. One challenge is to establish a legal framework to protect intellectual property on new developments, but also to allow free access and use.  (see slides)

Prof. Clarissa Prazeres da Costa, Co-director Center for Global Health, Technical University of Munich (TUM) focused her presentation on the involvement of civil society in research projects. She described the important role of midwives in rural regions of Pakistan, where integrated health systems are lacking, lack of knowledge or wrong information is widespread. Midwives are the important multipliers there. Through them, the neglected women are reached. They are key to building trust, providing comprehensive and respectful maternal care, and offering family planning counselling. Midwives can also be trained to recognise diseases associated with maternal health, such as genital schistosomiasis. This was implemented in a women's health workshop in Gabon. (see slides)

In the discussion, all agreed that international research in Germany against neglected tropical diseases is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) mainly through Product Development Partnerships (PDPs), but also through the funding of EDCTP as well as the funding initiative Research Networks for Health Innovations in Sub-Saharan Africa. The CYSTINET Africa network, among others, serves as a One Health platform to combat cysticercosis caused by tapeworms, which can develop into neurocysticercosis if it affects the brain and is the most common cause of epilepsy in sub-Saharan Africa.

The panel was moderated by Prof. Dr. Achim Hörauf, Speaker of the DNTD and Director Institute for Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology, University Bonn Medical Center and Dr. Carsten Köhler, Director, Institute for Tropical Medicine, University Hospital Tübingen.


On the Federal Government's answer to the Questions of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group

Berlin , 7 September 2023 - In an open letter, the Board of the German Network against Neglected Tropical Diseases reacts to the previous initiatives of the Federal Government to combat neglected tropical diseases and takes up again the answer of the Federal Government to the Question of the CDU/CSU- Parliamentary Group, Printed Matter 20/7155, June 2023. This letter is addressed to the Federal Chancellor, members of the German Bundestag, the Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Federal Minister for Health, the Federal Minister for Education and Research and the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development. With five recommendations, the members of the network call for a stronger and more concrete focus on poverty-associated neglected tropical diseases in current debates and decisions on Global Health - Pandemic Prevention - Climate Change - Feminist Foreign and Development Policy.

+++ Global NTD Programme Partners' Meeting. Stronger Together, Towards 2030

Geneva/Berlin, 14 June 2023. Only three months after his appointment, Dr Ibrahima Socé Fall invited representatives from the global NTD community, countries and donors, implementing and technical partners, academia, patient associations and all other agencies and institutions involved in the fight against NTDs to WHO headquarters. The focus of the two-day conference (12-13 June 2023) was to discuss the way forward in the fight against NTDs based on the WHO-NTD Roadmap 2030. His conclusion: in the future, the WHO Roadmap needs to be adapted to some new challenges, from capturing access to NTD treatments to determining impact; from vertical governance of programmes to horizontal implementation and finally, partner-driven programming needs to be increasingly translated into implementation by national governments. The German Network against Neglected Tropical Diseases also participated in the event and was able to exchange views on future trends.

Berlin, 08.05.2023 - The new Director of the WHO Programme against Neglected Tropical Diseases, Dr Ibrahima Socé Fall, visited with his delegation representatives from the German Bundestag, the Federal Ministry of Health, Education and Research, and Economic Cooperation and Development. He also discussed the current challenges with stakeholders from pharmaceutical companies and there was an exchange with the board members of the German Network against Neglected Tropical Diseases. This first visit to Germany was very important to underline Germany's role in all future NTD projects.

Presentation of the study: "Vector-associated infectious diseases in a changing climate - opportunities and limitations of modelling approaches for risk assessment"

Berlin, 10.05.2023 Tropical diseases transmitted by insects may become a risk for people in Germany and Europe in the future, even with moderate temperature increases due to climate change. This is the conclusion of a study by the Medical Biodiversity and Parasitology Research Group at Goethe University/ Frankfurt am Main, commissioned by the German Network against Neglected Tropical Diseases. Prof. Dr. Sven Klimpel and Dr. Sarah Cunze presented their modelling at a Parliamentary Evening. After a welcome by Prof. Dr. Achim Hörauf, Speaker of the DNTDs, Director of the Institute for Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology at the University Hospital Bonn, Dr. Georg Kippels MP and Speaker of the Parliamentary Advisory Board of the DNTDs opened the event by emphasising that the NTDs have now been accompanied by the Parliamentary Advisory Board for almost 10 years and mentioned in this context especially the declarations of the G7 states on NTDs. In the following discussion, Prof. Dr. Jonas Chanasit, Lead Arbovirology and Entomology, Bernhard Nocht Institute Hamburg, pointed out how important it will be in the future to cooperate in European networks and to communicate well with good quality data and thus to focus on prevention. The researchers recommend monitoring in the future that includes vector occurrence, prevalence of pathogens, occurrence of human and veterinary cases of disease and is carried out according to standardised methods throughout Europe. Efforts should be made to establish a European reporting system that could improve the data situation. In the case of species that have not yet become indigenous, vector control at early stages of immigration could be considered. Educating the population is also an important goal. The experts of the German Network consider training programmes for diagnostics, prophylaxis (including vaccinations) and therapy of infectious diseases as well as the development of new diagnostics and therapeutics to be particularly important.