''This is an exciting time for action on NTDs, especially with the recent China-Africa Health Development Framework including cooperation for schistosomiasis elimination. We are pleased to be part of a much larger movement which is pressing for a new approach to the very old problem of NTDs"
Prof Louis-Albert Tchuem Tchuente (Country Director)
Neglected tropical diseases are a set of parasitic and bacterial infections which mainly tend to affect those living in tropical regions. They cause serious health and socio-economic burdens, thereby exacerbating mortality.
Going with the Flow: Local learning about rivers to implement ground larviciding for community-based control of river blindness
08 September 2017, South West Region - Preparations are proceeding at pace to control the local blackfly population in the South West Region of Cameroon. This is part of an integrated control strategy against river blindness implemented by the COUNTDOWN consortium, in partnership with the University of Buea, the Cameroon Ministry of Public Health and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. River blindness, also known as onchocerciasis, is a major health problem in the South West Region of Cameroon. It is transmitted by blackflies when they bite humans to obtain a blood meal. There is an effective treatment for onchocerciasis in the form of Mectizan (ivermectin); this drug has been used successfully in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa and South America. However, in the South West Region of Cameroon, and other locations in Central Africa, Mectizan use is complicated by the presence of a second parasite; Loa loa. The latter can cause severe reactions to Mectizan in a small number of heavily infected individuals. Read More
Mass Drug Administration in Barombi Crater Lakes
10 - 19 August 2017, South West Region - The Barombi crater lakes are renowned foci for schistosomiasis transmission and thus have been selected as study sites for the COUNTDOWN schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiasis-focused research. In line with planned COUNTDOWN activities, mass treatment with praziquantel against schistosomiasis and mebendazole for intestinal worms took place in Barombo Kotto and Barombi Mbo communities. This 2 week activity consisted training of community drug distributors and sensitisation of opinion leaders which was facilitated by the Regional NTD Coordinator, SW , the District Medical Officer and Chief of Post at the Health Centre. The church played an invaluable role in community sensitisation, as well as opinion leaders - traditional leaders, quarter heads, church leaders, women leaders and youth leaders - who positively influenced community adherence. However, the group charged with the ultimate success of MDA were CDDs who worked enthusiastically and effortlessly to rid the community of the burden of schistosomiasis and intestinal worms. In addition to MDA, the health economic team carried out household surveys while the social scientists captured perceptions around control interventions via key informant interviews and focused group discussions with variety of community groups - women, elders, youth, farmers etc.
Preparatory Meeting: Mass Treatment in Barombi Crater Lakes
04 August 2017, Yaoundé -Prior to mass treatment of communities in Barombi Crater lakes in the South West Region, a work plan meeting was organised at the COUNTDOWN country office in Yaoundé. Participants included the Regional NTD Coordinator, South West Region, Mrs Bea Mukete and personnel from the National Programme for the Control of Schistosomiasis and STH. The work plan guiding the implementation of the community-wide mass drug administration in both Barombi Kotto and Barombi Kotto were reviewed and finalised through guidance from Mrs Mukete. All community drug distributors training manuals and distribution tools – registration forms, dose pole - were revised. Each theme – parasitology, epidemiology, health economics and social science – offered insight into planned activities for said locations resulting to clear integration of activities on the field.
Staff Work Plan Meeting
03 July 2017, Yaoundé - Colleagues in Yaoundé got together for a working session during which they reviewed work plans and finalised action plans moving forward. This session allowed for better synergy between the parasitology and social science disciplines. Clear action plans and timelines for planned field activities were set enabling close collaboration and effectiveness of activities. Social science colleagues informed on preliminary findings from data collected thus far, through engagement with various stakeholders both at Regional and District level. These findings will guide future research activities and community engagement.
COUNTDOWN Baseline Study
31 May - 04 June 2017, Makenene - Completion of COUNTDOWN baseline studies continues as the team visited Makenene, Centre Region for community-based sample collection. This was in accordance with planned activities for the Integrated complementary strategy theme -2. An initial community cross-sectional study is required to assess the baseline infection and morbidity status of both schistosomiasis and STH in the community. Makenene is one of the study sites selected for extended treatment of praziquantel (for schistosomiasis) and mebendazole (for STH). The success of activities in the community was due in part to local collaboration from community drug distributors who were at the forefront of community sensitisation. The community working for the community emphasises the idea of community ownership which in turn allows for full engagement and adherence of community members to the schistosomiasis control activities.
CSP - LSTM study fieldwork in Barombi Kotto, South West Region
22 - 30 May 2017, Barombi Kotto - Accompanying the CSP team for planned COUNTDOWN activities, the team from LSTM travelled to Barombi Kotto village, in the South West Region. The Chief of Barombi Kotto and his village elders were very welcoming as usual and before any work could commence, an introduction and sensitization session was organized at the community hall for the entire community. LSTM Masters students offered overviews of their research, highlighting the objectives and how the samples collected from the community will be utilized. The Chief understands first hand the burden which schistosomiasis causes to his people and he expressed his total commitment and support to working with the COUNTDOWN project to curb this debilitating diseases. The whole community was fully engaged and adhered to all aspects of the various research activities and this was due for the most part, to the proper sensitization offered before commencement of activities. All samples collected were analysed on the ground at the community Health Centre. Furthermore, Christine Makia made advances around social science-related aspect of the COUNTDOWN research by capturing the perceptions of stakeholders and lay people around schistosomiasis control interventions. She carried out in-depth-interviews and focus group interviews with some stakeholders being the Chief of Barombi Kotto, Head of the Nigerian community, Community Youth Leader, traditional leader and the Chief of the Health Centre.
COUNTDOWN Social Science workshop
18 -19 May 2017, Yaoundé - The COUNTDOWN Social science team in Yaoundé organised a two-days working session with Dr Martyn Stewart around resources for analysis and paper writing. The team consisted Prof Estelle Kouokam, Marlene Siping, Marlene Ntshinda and Christine Makia. During the course of this intensive working session which took place at the COUNTDOWN country office, colleagues presented findings obtained from preliminary research carried out in Edea, Littoral Region. This study also served to test data collection tools and Dr Martyn shared knowledge around qualitative analysis, equipping the team with the ability to succinctly analyse qualitative data.
CSP welcomes Colleagues and MSc Students from LSTM
17 May 2017, Yaoundé - Growing partnership between CSP and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) has led to numerous opportunities for mutual capacity development and knowledge exchange. This was recently the case, as Prof Louis-Albert Tchuem Tchuenté and team at CSP welcomed colleagues and Masters students from LSTM for further collaboration around schistosomiasis research. LSTM team consisted Drs James LaCourse and Martyn Stewart alongside students, Grace Macklin, Lisa O'Halloran and Zickmund Bartonicek. The main aim of the visit was to further the research agenda around schistosomiasis control, as the Masters students partnered with the CSP to conduct field studies in line with their final research projects.
Training of Social Science Field Surveyors
04 - 06 May 2017, Buea - In line with planned activities, colleagues in Buea organised a training session for field surveyors. This training session, facilitated by Laura Dean, LSTM and Dr Theobald Nji,Social Science lead, Buea entailed capacity building on qualitative research methods, introduction to the data collection tools and pretesting of these tools, by the field workers. The tools will serve to capture the knowledge, attitudes and perceptions around control interventions, by the community.
District Advocacy and Stakeholders Meeting
02 May 2017, Kumba - Following the successful Regional Advocacy and Stakeholders Meeting in Buea, the team organised another advocacy and stakeholders meeting, this time at district level. The meeting which was held in Kumba, brought together mayors of municipal councils, community leaders, chairpersons of health dialogue structures, directors of health district services, nurses and head of health areas. Participants where informed on the work COUNTDOWN envisions carrying out around the control of onchocerciasis in Cameroon. The rationale for the research focus areas of the multidisciplinary themes - parasitology, epidemiology, social sciences and health economics - were further elaborated. Community engagement is key to community ownership of control interventions as it ensures the sustainability of the intervention.
COUNTDOWN ICST2 Baseline Studies
27 March - 14 May 2017, Centre Region - It has been a very busy period for the team in Yaoundé which are progressively finishing off the schistosomiasis baseline studies in school-aged children and in communities. These studies will offer information on the prevalence of schistosomiasis in the selected study sites and will guide work around the alternative interventions to be carried out. Study Sites are located in Four Regions - Centre, Littoral, West and South West. For more information about this schistosomiasis research, visit Our Projects.
COUNTDOWN Advocacy and Stakeholders Meeting
20 April 2017, Buea- The COUNTDOWN team in Buea alongside our partners -the University of Buea, hosted a Regional Advocacy and Stakeholders meeting which brought together government officials and officials from civil society organisations - Helen Keller International and Sightsavers. In addition were Deans from the University of Buea, teachers and students all interested in combatting NTDs in the South West Region. In her welcome word, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Buea who presided the meeting, stressed and encouraged researchers to ensure that research information is always relayed back to the communities concerned. The Director of Disease Control, Ministry of Health reiterated the government's commitment on NTDs control and fortified youths to be proactive in this fight. The COUNTDOWN team in Buea led by Prof Samuel Wanji, offered elaborate narratives of the overall COUNTDOWN project with emphasis placed on the alternative strategies for the acceleration of Onchocerciasis in Cameroon. Before officially launching the COUNTDOWN activities in the South West Region, the Governor informed on his "unconditional support" to all COUNTDOWN activities. A highlight of the meeting was the onchocerciasis exhibition where participants where enlightened around onchocerciasis.
COUNTDOWN 3rd Annual Partners' Meeting
28-30 March 2017, Yaoundé - The 3rd COUNTDOWN Annual Partners' Meeting was hosted in Yaoundé, Cameroon at Mont Fébé Hotel. The team in Cameroon welcomed partners from Liberia, Nigeria and the United Kingdom, while partners from Ghana were unfortunately unable to attend the meeting due to unforeseen circumstances. The 3-day intensive and interactive meeting allowed COUNTDOWN colleagues to review progress on work carried out thus far, all the while planning actions for multidisciplinary research activities moving forward.
TES Conference 2017 - Paper Writing and Training Workshop
24 March 2017, Yaoundé - Following the unprecedented Towards Elimination of Schistosomiasis (TES) Conference, the organising committee convened an open Paper Writing and Training workshop, which brought together junior researches and students from international and national levels for capacity strengthening. This workshop offered participants a platform to expand knowledge on scientific writing and peer-review publication, as well as Molecular Epidemiology, Diagnostics and Bioinformatics which serves for more effective disease surveillance. It was facilitated by Conference Chair, Prof Louis-Albert Tchuem Tchuenté, alongside Prof Russell Stothard, Dr Suzy Campbell, Dr Niel Young and Dr Bonnie Webster
Towards Elimination of Schistosomiasis (TES) Conference 2017
22-23 March 2017, Yaoundé - The 1st International conference organised on Schistosomiasis in Cameroon was held from Wednesday, 22nd March 2017 to Thursday, 23 March 2017 at Mont Fébé Hotel, Yaoundé. This conference titled Toward Elimination of Schistosomiasis (TES) brought together over 80 experts, scientists, donors, policy makers, non-governmental development organisations and students from all over the world to share and learn from each other's experiences and perspectives. The full report of the TES Conference 2017 is now available!
COUNTDOWN Evidence Synthesis Workshop
07-10 February 2017, Yaoundé - The COUNTDOWN team in Yaounde have welcomed colleagues from Buea and Nigeria for a 4-Day Evidence Synthesis Workshop which aims to enable participants to understand, appraise and use systematic reviews in neglected tropical diseases .This workshop is facilitated by Prof Pierre Ongolo-Zogo, Dr Villyen Nkengafac and Patrick Owen from the Centre for the Development of Best Practices in Health.
COUNTDOWN Social Science in-country team meeting
24-25 January 2017, Yaounde- The COUNTDOWN team in Yaounde hosted colleagues from Buea, for a 2-day Social Science meeting. The purpose of this meeting was to review research activities against the timelines, review data collection tools and ensure reflection and co-ordination with both the Yaoundé and Buea research teams.
Training Course on Malacology
26 -27 October 2016, Yaounde - A 2-days training course on malacology and use of molluscicides for snail control was carried out as part of the China-Africa meeting. The Director of CSP, and Coordinator of the National SCH Control Programme, Prof Louis-Albert Tchuem Tchuente led Chinese and African partners to a schistosomiasis transmission site in the city, where partners carried out malacological surveys with help from experts Dr Henri Madsen, University of Copenhagen, Prof David Rollinson, Natural History Museum and Dr Rabiou Labbo, RISEAL Niger. Following this training course, Chinese and African partners were able to strengthen diagnostic capacity on schistosomiasis diagnostic techniques at the CSP with help from the team at CSP.
2nd China-Africa Meeting on Schistosomiasis Elimination
24 -28 October 2016, Yaounde - The second meeting of the China-Africa Cooperation on Schistosomiasis Elimination took place this week at Hilton Hotel in the capital city, Yaounde. This cooperation aims to strengthen collaboartion between African and Chinese research institutions, in order to scale up schistosomiasis control and elimination through the agreement between the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China and the Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases with the World Health Organisation. The meeting included a 2-days training course in malacology and use of molluscicides for snail control, with activities being carried out at the Centre for Schistosomiasis and Parasitology.
Work Plan Meeting for Multidisciplinary Research
03 - 07 October 2016, Limbe - COUNTDOWN Cameroon team in Buea, South West Region was pleased to welcome and host colleagues from Yaounde, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK and FHI360, USA for a 5 Days working session aimed at finalising strategic research work plans for our multiple disciplines - parasitology, applied social sciences and health economics. Based at Seme Beach Hotel in Limbe with its magnificent views and spectacular back drops, the interactive working sessions led to great progress around the implementation of our multidisciplinary research. Read More
Raising awareness about Schistosomiasis on National Radio Station-CRTV
02 August 2016, Yaounde - Communication is an invaluable tool which serves to raise awareness and sensitise the population, around the control and elimination of NTDs in the country. Prof Tcuem Tchuente joined the team of 'CRTV m'accompagne' at the national radio station to discuss the importance of building health reporting capacity within the media around NTDs. Schistosomiasis and other NTDs continue to pose problems for some populations around the country, but educating the public helps them to be aware of transmission and how to prevent it. For more information about schistosomiasis, please click here.
23 - 28 July 2016- The National Programme for the Control of Schistosomiasis and STH organised a 6 days NTDs training session for journalists from national and regional levels. Prof Tchuem Tchuente, permanent secretary of the programme believes that "communication plays a very big role in raising awareness, controlling and eliminating NTDs". The training session consisted field visits to various schistosomiasis endemic sites as well as areas which have managed to eliminate the disease, hence becoming success stories. Journalists were able to experience the challenges and realities faced in order to reach populations most affected. All the communities and traditional leaders visited, warmly received the team and expressed gratitude for the government's effort in hearing their voice and improving they health status.
Working Session with Directors of Health Areas in Edea Health District, Littoral Region
19 July 2016, Edea - Prof Louis-Albert Tchuem Tchuente attended a working session with the Directors of Health areas in Edea Health District, Littoral Region ahead of a planned mass drug distribution. This working session organised by the National Programme for the Control of Schistosomiasis and STH demonstrates the government's incessant commitment in improving the health status of the population. Prof Tchuem Tchunete commended the Directors for their relentless hard work and reiterated that 'in order to interrupt transmission of schistosomiasis we have to deworm the whole community, not just school-aged children'.
Launch of Annual Stakeholder NTD work plan meeting for Cameroon
07 June 2016, Yaounde - The annual stakeholders NTD work plan meeting brought together both international and national stakeholders involved in the fight against neglected tropical diseases. These stakeholders comprising the National Programme for the Control of Schistosomiasis and STH, National Programme for the Control of Onchocerciasis, Helen Keller International, RTI International, Perspective, Sightsavers, and International Eye Foundation discussed the implementation the Envision project for 2017. This 8-year USAID funded project aims at providing assistance to the NTD control programs for the control and elimination of NTDs so that they are no longer a public health problem.
NTD Ambassador in Cameroon
09 June 2016, Yaounde - We are pleased to announce that Professor Louis-Albert Tchuem Tchuente, COUNTDOWN Cameroon country director and national coordinator for Cameroon's National Programme for the Control of Schistosomiasis and STH has been appointed NTD Ambassador, for the renowned Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom. Through this role, Prof Tchuem Tchuente will contribute in raising the profile of NTDs among policymakers, media and general public; and to advocate for NTD donors, governments and organisation to maintain and increase their commitments to achieve the World Health Organisation's Roadmap goals. Click below to read more about Prof Tchuem Tchuente
Field Visit to Barombi, SW Cameroon
01-08 June 2016, Barombi- A team from the Centre for Schistosomiasis and Parasitology led by Prof Tchueme Tchuente went on a week's study field visit to Barombi, south west Cameroon accompanied by Prof Russ and the team from LSTM. The comparative study aims at evaluating the level of schistosomiasis transmission in two sites: Barombi Mbo and Braombi Kotto. The team received warm welcomes from the chiefs and community of each village and were able to raise awareness and inform them of ways to interrupt transmission. All samples collected from the community were prepared and analysed by using various diagnostic techniques.
Bearmann diagnostic technique performed first time at CSP
31st May 2016, Yaounde- Growing collaboration between the Centre for Schistosomiasis and Parasitology (CSP) and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) offers the platform for training and knowledge sharing as has been the case today. Prof Russ from LSTM performed the Baermann diagnostic technique for the first time at the CSP where students from both CSP and LSTM were able to learn and develop their capacity. The technique makes use of stool samples to test to test for the presence of schistosomes.
Visit from the team from LSTM
30 May 2016, Yaounde- A team of MSc students from Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) led by Professor Russell Stothard and Dr James LaCourse are currently visiting Cameroon where they shall be collaborating with Prof Louis-Albert Tchuem Tchente and his team at the Centre for Schistosomiasis and Parasitology. Close ties forged between both institutions allows for knowledge transfer and capacity building around schistosomiasis research. The team is currently preparing for a study field visit to Barombi, in the South west region of Cameroon.
24 - 27 May 2016, Edea - A 10-person team from the Centre for Schistosomiasis and Parasitology and University of Yaoundé I, travelled to the city of Edea, in the Littoral region to conduct an evaluation study. This study is aimed at evaluating the level of transmission of schistosomiasis and the efficacy of praziquantel treatment provided during the annual national deworming campaigns. Over a four-day period, the team collected a total of about 1600 stool samples from about 75 schools within the various divisions in the Edea health district. All samples were prepared for analysis using the kato-katz technique.
COUNTDOWN Annual Meeting
20-22 April 2016, Accra, Ghana - COUNTDOWN country partners gathered in Ghana for the consortium's first annual meeting. During this three-days meeting, partners were able to look back at the progress made thus far and what is yet to be done to attain its goals.
Visit to Ghana Health Service, Abom
19 April 2016, Abom, Ghana- The research uptake team went a day's field trip to Obom, 4 hours away from Accra where they were able to interact with disease control officers and gain insight around NTDs management and control in Ghana. A highlight of this visit was encountering Mr Stephen Sarkodie, a community drug distributor with the same enthusiasm as when he started in 1989.
Research Uptake Workshop
18 April 2016, Accra, Ghana - Before the commencement of the annual meeting the research uptake officers from partner countries gathered to discuss country work plans, communication tools and ways of monitoring and tracking the impact made by COUNTDOWN in their respective countries.
Grand Challenges Africa Convening
23 - 26 February 2016, Nairobi, Kenya - The Grand Challenges Africa (GCA) meeting brought together grantees funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada and the USAID, to share ideas and experiences to help define the shape and focus of GCA and potential challenges, and how GCA can drive the innovation necessary to achieve the continent’s long-term Sustainable Development Goals.
Prince Mahidol Award Conference (PMAC) 2016
26 - 31 January 2016, Bangkok, Thailand - The PMAC 2016 on "Priority Settings for Universal Health" gathered a total of 847 participants from 63 countries. There were interesting debates, including cost-effectiveness vs human rights considerations for setting priorities in health.
Prince Mahidol Award Conference (PMAC) 2016 Field Trip
28 January 2016, Suan Luang Municipality, Kratumban District, Samut Sakhon Province, Thailand - A one-day field trip was organized to different sites, offering participants the opportunity to directly interact with persons in charge of policy decisions and implementation in real life, and to get an insight into Thailand’s health systems including care delivery, financing and management.
Health Economics Workshop
01 December 2015, Yaounde - Professor Louis Neissen, Chair of Health Economics at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, facilitated a discussion with the COUNTDOWN Cameroon team around the equity impact of the scale up of Mass Drug Administration and sustainable complementary strategies for this scale up.
Visit to the Ministry of Public Health, Cameroon
01 December 2015, Yaounde- Prof Louis Neissen and Prof Tchuem Tchuente visited the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Public Health, at the Ministry of Public Health. This encounter enabled discussion around better understanding the NTD programmes in Cameroon, surveillance system, availability of data, applicability of economic impact measurements and ways to implement health economic research in Cameroon at household level.
Visit to the Faculty of Sciences, University of Yaounde I
01 December 2015, Yaounde - The COUNTDOWN team along with Prof. Louis Neissen paid a visit to the Faculty of Sciences at the University of Yaoundé I, where they were able to learn more about the research being conducted at the faculty, around parasitology research in Cameroon.
Field Visit to Kinding Ndjabi in the Centre Region,Cameroon
13 October 2016,Yaounde- COUNTDOWN Cameroon and Liverpool team members visited the village of Kinding Ndjabi, 3 hours West of Yaounde. This is an example of a success story of interruption of schistosomiasis through the installation of a water pump and other interventions. Discussion with the village chief clearly indicated that the pump had brought many health benefits to the local community with those affected now largely free of the signs and symptoms of disease.
Research Uptake Workshop
12 October 2015, Yaounde - As part of the COUNTDOWN project activities in Cameroon, a workshop on research uptake was held in Yaoundé. The workshop gathered COUNTDOWN team members from Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) and Cameroon (Yaoundé and Buea teams) to discuss and share research uptake strategies, tools and perspectives.
Launch of the COUNTDOWN Project in Cameroon
09 October 2015, Yaounde - The Minister of Public Health, Andre Mama Fouda presided the launch of the COUNTDOWN project In Cameroon. This is an implementation research programmed aimed at intensifying the control and elimination of PC-NTDs in Cameroon.
Social Sciences Workshop
25 - 27 August 2015, Yaoundé – As part of the COUNTDOWN project activities in Cameroon, a social sciences workshop was held in Yaoundé, to develop protocols and a work plan for social sciences research, including defining the role and responsibilities of staff involved. Participants included COUNTDOWN staff from Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), Buea and Yaoundé.
08 - 12 June 2015, Yaounde - Working visit of Rachael Thomson and Julie Irving to Cameroon to discuss the inception work-plan, activities, budget allocation, COUNTDOWN operational manual, and reporting requirements.
What others are saying about NTDS
"The very term 'neglected tropical disease' stems from the fact that they affect more than a billion people, one in seven on the globe, but they really affect the poorest of the poor. They've been neglected because they affect neglected people, the kind of people who really have no ability to pay for medicines, though that is changing."
- Dr Smith, Stirling University, Scotland
The world is now paying attention to these neglected diseases and making progress in unprecedented ways, with ambitious goals, excellent interventions and growing evidence for multiple benefits for health
- Dr Magaret Chan, Director General of the WHO
“It’s not that these diseases really have been neglected. It’s the people who suffer from them who have been neglected. Protecting poor people from preventable diseases that cause acute suffering remains at the heart of our mission to end poverty and boost shared prosperity.”
-Dr Jim Yong Kim, World Bank President