World NTD Day 2023: Act now. Act together.
30 January 2023
The World NTD Day is an annual event celebrated on January 30th to raise awareness of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). NTDs are a diverse group of 20 conditions, mostly infectious diseases, that affect more than one billion people worldwide, primarily in low- and middle-income countries. They are referred to as "neglected" because they are almost absent from the international health agenda.
The epidemiology of NTDs is complex and often related to environmental conditions. Many of them are vector-borne, have animal reservoirs and are associated with complex life cycles, and can lead to severe disability, disfigurement, and even death. NTDs are often overlooked and neglected due to their prevalence in low-income countries and the lack of resources available to combat them. The World NTD Day is an opportunity to bring attention to these diseases and the people affected by them.
European Vaccine Initiative (EVI) tackling neglected diseases with vaccines
EVI has been dedicated to the development of safe, effective and affordable vaccines against diseases of poverty and emerging infectious diseases since 1998. Currently, EVI is heading the PREV PKDL project, which aims to advance the clinical development of the ChAd63-KH vaccine candidate for the prevention of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) / post-kala Azar dermal leishmaniasis (PKDL).
Leishmaniasis is an NTD caused by protozoan parasites in tropical and subtropical areas and southern Europe. The visible effects of some forms of leishmaniasis, such as lesions or scars, can lead to societal stigma, negatively impacting the patient's quality of life and mental well-being, particularly in children and women. The PREV_PKDL project will evaluate ChAd63-KH in healthy Sudanese volunteers aged 12-17 years in a safety, immunogenicity and efficacy phase Ib/II clinical trial. In parallel, a multicentre research study is being conducted across four endemic countries (Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda) to better understand the pathogenesis of PKDL – and the underlying immune mechanisms - in patients treated for VL. The results of these studies, and the development of research capacity for monitoring immune responses, will help to underpin future research and product evaluation. Additionally, EVI has supported pre-clinical research for vaccines against dengue, chikungunya, and onchocerciasis through TRANSVAC, a European vaccine research infrastructure project.
This date is as well an opportunity to focus on the positive progress made in fight against these diseases (e.g., 47 countries had eliminated at least one NTD by the end of 2022) and to advocate for increased funding and resources to support the research and development of treatments and vaccines.
Read more about the ‘WHO 2030 NTD road map’ aiming to prevent, control, and eradicate 20 neglected tropical diseases by 2030 here: https://worldntdday.org/
PREV_PKDL project is part of the EDCTP2 Programme supported by the European Union (RIA2016V-1640)