Activities of the DNTDs

World Water Week Stockholm 2019

Stockholm/Berlin – August 27, 2019.  German WASH network and DNTDs organized for the first time a joint session "WASH and Neglected Tropical Diseases: Improving Inclusion and Health" at the International World Water Week. Every year, the WWW brings together around 3,000 experts, representatives of governments and multilateral organizations who deal with all questions related to water, particularly in emerging and developing countries.

The main focus of the session was to show the connections between WASH and the fight against NTD. Karl Puchner from DAHW described the challenges of NTDs and the why it WASH aspects must also be considered. Constanze Bönig from Veterinarians Without Borders talked about the special problems of animal husbandry and water. Yael Velleman, formerly with WHO and now with the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative, presented the WHO toolkit on WASH and NTD control, presented at the NNN meeting in Addis Ababa last year. Waltaji Terfa from the WHO Regional Office in Ethiopia described the experience in this endemic country and called for a joint “commitment” and an “accountability matrix” to better interlink the activities of the two sectors

The participants of the joint session, predominantly from the WASH area, engaged in discussions on the topics of evidence, capacity building and coordination, each with a view to combining the two areas of activity.

Harald Zimmer, member of the board of the DNTDs, Senior Consultant International, Association of Research-Based Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (vfa) emphasized, that the event was a very good first initiative to jointly talk on cross-sectoral topics. He continued that he was pleased to inform the WASH community that activities for NTD control are largely missing within WASH-programmes though they are very important. Important not only for fighting NTDs but also for sustainable and successful WASH programmes. Harald Zimmer therefore argued in favor for more joint cooperation.

Federal Minister Dr Gerd Müller at the Initial Symposium

Berlin/Würzburg 22 May 2019 – With the plea “Stop diseases of poverty. Together, we can do it!”, Dr Gerd Müller, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, addressed the roughly 150 guests invited to the initial symposium of the German Center (DZVT) for the Multisectoral Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases at the Würzburg residence. “This will provide light and hope,” he said in support of the work by experts from the fields of science, civil society and the private sector, who presented their contributions to the multisectoral control of neglected tropical diseases. Seven founding institutions, renowned stakeholders from academia, civil society and the church, have joined forces to present the global health system with a holistic approach to combatting NTDs. This approach goes far beyond infection research: It ranges from applied economics, logistics, political science and sociology through to ecology, climate research and medical science and is ideally both applied and translational. The goal is to make Würzburg a national leader with far-reaching international visibility in researching and combatting neglected tropical diseases and to thereby give rise to Global Health 4.0.

Parliamentary Evening with Dr Mwelecele Ntuli Malecela, Director of the Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases at the World Health Organization

Berlin, 16 May 2019 – At the Parliamentary Evening on the World Health Organization and Neglected Tropical Diseases: New Alliances after 2020?, Dr Mwelecele Ntuli Malecela, Director of the Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases at the World Health Organization (WHO), provided information on the status of the roadmap on neglected tropical diseases. It is currently being updated beyond 2020 and adapted to ensure that the target values pursued in the sustainable development objectives can be achieved. Dr Malecela invited the German stakeholders to take part in the commentary.

Andrea Spelberg, Head of Global Health at the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF), provided assurances that the federal government will take part in the consultation process. The BMBF is taking the lead in the federal government when it comes to neglected tropical diseases. Ms Spelberg emphasized that there are hardly any other political fields where there is such effective coordination between the federal departments.

Heike Baehrens, a member of the German Parliament, Chair of the Global Health subcommittee and Deputy Chair of the Parliamentarian Board to Fight NTDs and Strengthen Health Systems, emphasized that she took the request to the federal government to take part in the roadmap commentary seriously. A lot could be achieved with a minimum of outlay by fighting neglected tropical diseases. Baehrens also said that she was delighted that Germany has taken the initiative by supporting ESPEN (Expanded Special Project for Elimination of Neglected Tropical Disease).

Dr Georg Kippels, a member of the German Parliament and Chair of the Parliamentarian Board to Fight NTDs and Strengthen Health Systems, explained that, thanks to the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, neglected tropical diseases have become an important theme within the federal government. However, implementing the sustainable development objectives and the objectives of the London Declaration on the Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases is a Herculean task, which still requires a lot of work.

Prof. Achim Hörauf, Director of the Institute of Microbiology, Medical Immunology and Parasitology at the University Hospital Bonn and spokesperson for the German Network against Neglected Tropical Diseases (DNTDs), indicated that the new roadmap of the World Health Organization is changing focus slightly to concentrate on the patient and his/her rights. Using its technological capabilities, Germany could focus, in particular, on epidemiological monitoring and analysis of NTD prevalences and incidences. The successes achieved with mass treatment for affected population groups, in the case of river blindness or elephantiasis, for example, make it necessary to consolidate improvements in individual care and diagnostics. To this day, this monitoring poses a considerable challenge for the national healthcare systems. The number of people affected is often significantly greater than the number recorded by the current NTD elimination programs – this is true in the case of elephantiasis associated with lymphatic filariasis, for example. For people to be able to exercise their right to access health benefits (SDG 3 - good health and wellbeing) in the future, the corresponding benefits must also be provided in the countries in question; this will require more accurate figures in terms of frequency (prevalence).

Three Memento Prize Winners on the Board of the German Network

Berlin, February 20, 2019. This year, the Memento Prize is awarded to Prof. Jürgen May of the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM). The 5000-euro prize was awarded in recognition of May's research on serious infectious diseases in children in Sub-Saharan Africa. Many infectious diseases in areas of Sub-Saharan Africa are caused by pathogens, which are not detected due to a lack of diagnostics and therefore not treated, even though the corresponding medications would be available. May's working group in Hamburg and Kumasi (Ghana) was able to identify the causes of the infectious diseases in various hospitals in the Ashanti region. “Serious infectious diseases often have multiple triggers. People then suffer from a variety of diseases. These coinfections, which are caused by parasites, bacteria or viruses and often count as neglected tropical diseases, worsen the course of the disease,” explains May.

“We congratulate Prof. Jürgen May on winning the Memento Prize 2019,” says Prof. Achim Hörauf, Spokesperson of the Board of the German Network against Neglected Tropical Diseases (DNTDs). “With his work and his tremendous dedication, Professor May has made a considerable contribution to the fight against neglected tropical diseases. “

Prof. Jürgen May is now the third scientific board member of the DNTDs to have been awarded the Memento Prize. In 2017, the prize went to Dr Carsten Köhler, Director of the Competence Center for Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen, for demonstrating the efficacy of a simplified artemisinin therapy in children with severe malaria and in 2015, to Prof. Achim Hörauf of the University Hospital Bonn for developing a therapy to combat parasitic roundworms (lymphatic filariasis).

German Network against Neglected Tropical Diseases (DNTDs) Supports Engagement in German States

Stuttgart/Berlin, 07 February 2019 – Baden-Württemberg has the highest number of academic institutions operating in the field of neglected tropical diseases across Germany and they boast a very high level of expertise. The federal state is also Germany's number one location in terms of the pharmaceutical industry.

Experts presented their activities in the fight against neglected tropical diseases at the joint meeting of BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg, the Association of Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (vfa), the German network against neglected tropical diseases (DNTDs) and the BPI [German Pharmaceutical Industry Association] Baden-Württemberg.

Till Bärnighausen, Head of the Institute of Global Health at the University of Heidelberg, underlined that a collaborative approach involving politics, science, the pharmaceutical industry and civil society is crucial to the success of an initiative. Carsten Köhler, Director of the Competence Center for Tropical Medicine Baden-Württemberg at the University and University Hospital Tübingen, indicated that, in addition to humanitarian aid, technological advances are also a key driver of activities. He stated that there is a large gap when it comes to researching simple diagnostics for many NTDs, as neglected tropical diseases as a whole vary greatly. Barbara Jonishkeit of BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg believed that it is particularly useful in Baden-Württemberg to convince family companies of the expertise in this field in order to develop further markets. Franz Werner Haas of CureVac AG and Manfred Klevesath of Merck also took to the podium to represent the pharmaceutical industry. As a representative of an NGO, Gisela Schneider, Director of DIFÄM (German Institute for Medical Mission) highlighted collaboration with the existing networks on site, such as religious organizations, emphasizing that they are particularly important in terms of treatment success and, ultimately, eradication of the NTDs.