27 June 2017

Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium engages with the schistosomiasis community

Over the last few years, members from the Pediatric Praziquantel (PZQ) Consortium have continued to play a predominant role at international conferences on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). They are fostering awareness of the pediatric PZQ formulation, and engaging in dialogue with the NTD and...

2016 closed with a presentation at the 65th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene (ASTMH). The Consortium presented outcomes from the two Phase I relative bioavailability studies in healthy volunteers, after administration of the new pediatric ODT formulations of racemate Praziquantel (rac-PZQ) and of the active enantiomer of Praziquantel (L-PZQ).

In 2017, Consortium partners have continued to be very active in contributing to discussions in the context of the schistosomiasis elimination agenda.

Schistosomiasis at the ISNTD Festival in London

On February 23rd, Consortium partners Merck and SCI attended the ISNTD (International Society for Neglected Tropical Disease) Festival in order to sensitize experts, funding organizations, and media on the social and economic impact of schistosomiasis. 

Merck - also a member of the Global Schistosomiasis Alliance - presented on common current efforts in the fight against the disease, and received an award for Scientific Engagement. This award recognized the company’s rigorous scientific, public, and patient engagement, its sustained advocacy for NTDs throughout a variety of communication formats, and its role in establishing a dynamic and collaborative international research and civic community.

Consortium in Cameroon

Towards Elimination of Schistosomiasis (TES) Conference

The Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium was also represented at the Towards Elimination of Schistosomiasis (TES) Conference held on March 22-23, 2017 in Yaoundé (Cameroon). Consortium partner Merck co-funded the conference and Dr. Jutta Reinhard-Rupp (Head of Merck Global Health Institute) participated in the scientific committee and provided the introduction note at the conference at the presence of the Cameroonian Minister of Health and the local governmental officials. In addition, Merck, chaired the session “Control and Elimination of Schistosomiasis”, and presented the status of the Pediatric PZQ program through its program lead, Dr. Kourany-Lefoll.

Inauguration of gynecological ward in Akonolinga

The Consortium also joined other meetings and events in Cameroon, including the Inauguration of the gynecological ward funded by Merck in collaboration with CIRES (Centre International de Recherches, d'Enseignements et de Soins). The inauguration was at Akonolinga, Centre Province of Cameroon, on Monday 27th March 2017. The addition of the gynecological service to the district hospital serves two purposes. First, it reinforces the local capacity for providing gynecological care to patients in need. Second it forms the basis for potential future clinical research on female genital schistosomiasis and related gynecological diseases. The inauguration provided an opportunity for Consortium partners to interact with local governmental officials, including those from the Ministry of Health.

Inauguration Event in Akonolinga with representatives from all partners and the Ministry of Health. Source: Merck



COUNTDOWN Annual Partners Meeting

Furthermore, through the Program Lead, the Consortium joined the COUNTDOWN Annual Partners Meeting (APM) on March 28-30 in Yaoundé, as an external advisory panel member. COUNTDOWN is a 5-year DFID-funded program conducting implementation research in four West African countries. The program includes partners from Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, and FHI360 from the US.  Each year, COUNTDOWN comes together in a partner country to review progress. This year’s focus was the changing national NTD Policy environment in partner countries, and how emerging results from the COUNTDOWN program’s research could inform discourse. 

Participants of the COUNTDOWN Meeting. Source: COUNTDOWN.

At the APM, COUNTDOWN encouraged cross-country discussions through updates on a number of themes. These included Evidence Synthesis; Applied Social Science; Health Economics; Macro & Vector Control (hotspots & severe adverse events) and Diagnostics, Schistosomiasis & STH (access to MDA & WASH – epidemiology, parasitology).

Major takeaways from the meeting are that the NTD Master Plan reviews present opportunities to inform policy change with research, and that this highlights the importance of fostering a multidisciplinary approach in order to create robust research evidence and to solve health system issues.

The Pediatric PZQ Consortium was pleased to be part of this discussion.

Consortium at the NTD Summit

2017 marks the 5th anniversary of the World Health Organization's (WHO) roadmap on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) and the London Declaration. To celebrate the occasion, Uniting to Combat NTDs, the WHO and the NTD community met at the NTD Summit in Geneva (Switzerland) on April 19-22.

Consortium partners (Merck, Swiss TPH and SCI) were determined not miss the event. Official speeches and presentations evoked the status of the program, and the importance of the new pediatric formulation as one of the key deliverables of the overall plan towards schistosomiasis elimination.