Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) released their fifth progress report on the London Declaration on NTDs. The report describes the progress made toward achieving the goals set out by the London Declaration toward the control, elimination, and eradication of 10 NTDs. DOLF research on a more effective triple drug combination for lymphatic filariasis (LF) was highlighted as an important innovation that “can dramatically improve treatment for LF and decrease the duration of programmes.” The report also celebrates Merck’s announcement to expand their donation in support of new triple-drug treatment.
Today Merck announced an expansion of the Mectizan Donation Program (MDP) to reach up to an additional 100 million people per year through 2025 to support the expansion of triple-drug therapy as part of the global effort to eliminate lymphatic filariasis (LF). DOLF research showed that adding ivermectin to diethylcarbamazine and albendazole can accelerate the time to reach LF elimination. WHO recently published new guidelines that recommend the triple drug combination for mass drug administration programs in settings where diethylcarbamazine and albendazole are already being used. These guidelines prompted Merck to expand its donation of Mectizan to countries outside of Africa.
Earlier today WHO published new guidelines for alternative MDA regimens for LF in the Weekly Epidemiological Record. The new guidelines recommend:
• Triple drug therapy (IDA) for use in countries using diethylcarbamazine + albendazole (DA) in special settings
• Annual ivermectin + albendazole (IA) rather than biannual IA in countries endemic for LF and onchocerciasis, except in areas already distributing biannual ivermectin for onchocerciasis
• Biannual albendazole rather than annual ablendazole in implementation units where LF is coendemic with loiasis and ivermectin has not already been distributed
DOLF studies provided important evidence to support these guidelines. The guidelines are tangible evidence that DOLF is making a policy impact that will hopefully translate to programmatic impact and the ultimate elimination of LF. Many people have worked on these studies. I was reminded of this as I prepared the long list of investigators, administrators, advisors, and consultants who would receive this email. And there are many more people whose emails I do not have, but whose hours of work collecting night blood, preparing blood smears, staring at microscopes and entering or analyzing data were crucial to our work. Congratulations to all of you and your colleagues as we continue to work towards a world free of LF!