For several of the NTDs prevention is available in the form of chemoprophylaxis. Preventive chemoprophylaxis involves administering six medicines in seven different combinations, making it possible to treat more than one disease at a time. Chemoprophylaxis does not only decrease the disease burden, it also prevents permanent impairments, chronic pain, stigmatization and an increase in poverty.
Preventive chemotherapy is a disease control strategy that is mostly used in (high) endemic areas as periodic mass drug administration in communities or provided to specific target groups, such as school children. The aim of the mass distribution is to kill the micro-organism in infected individuals, which will lead to reduced transmission and prevention of disease.
For which NTDs is this relevant?
The NTDs that are usually mentioned as the Preventive Chemotherapy (PC)-NTDs are: Onchocerciasis, Dracunculiasis, Lymphatic Filariasis, Schistosomiasis, Soil Transmitted Helminthes and Trachoma. Since 2018 the WHO guidelines on leprosy also recommended chemoprophylaxis for leprosy in the form of a single dose of rifampicin given to the group most at risk; close contacts of leprosy patients.
The ASCEND West and Central Africa programme (April 2019 - March 2022) aims to make major progress towards eliminating five painful and poverty-trapping neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in 13 of the world’s poorest countries. The new UK aid programme is managed by four leading development organisations (Sightsavers, Mott Macdonald, the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative,and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, as well as DFID). Together they will deliver 440 million treatments to help 13 countries in West and Central Africa to reach the elimination threshold for diseases and promote long-term sustainable change. In three years, the Ascend programme aims to transform millions of lives by treating trachoma, river blindness, lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis and intestinal worms.