|Call||Career Development Fellowship (CDF)|
"Slash and Clear" for ONchocerciasis control and Epilepsy prevention (SCONE)
|Brain Research Africa Initiative (BRAIN)||Cameroon|
Brain Research Africa Initiative (BRAIN)
|University of Antwerp, Belgium||PhD||2020-09-23|
|Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Yaoundé I, Cameroon||Doctorate in Medicine (MD)||2015-10-22|
Neglected Infectious Diseases (NID)
During door-to-door surveys in onchocerciasis-endemic regions in Africa, the age-specific ivermectin coverage in 29 722 individuals was assessed. Children 5–6 y of age had significantly lower coverage compared with older participants. Insufficient ivermectin intake among young children could prolong onchocerciasis elimination prospects, as they may serve as human reservoirs of Onchocerca volvulus; moreover, it increases the risk of developing onchocerciasis-associated epilepsy (OAE). The causes of the low ivermectin coverage observed among children 5–6 y of age need to be explored. Integrating ivermectin distribution into chemoprophylaxis strategies for other neglected diseases could increase coverage in a cost-effective manner.
Until recently, nodding syndrome (NS) was considered as a mysterious disease of unknown etiology. A link between onchocerciasis and epilepsy was suspected for a long time. However, onchocerciasis was not considered as the cause of NS because NS was believed to occur only in onchocerciasis-endemic regions in Uganda, South Sudan, and Tanzania. In October 2015, with funding from the European Research Council, the NSETHIO group launched a trans-disciplinary, multi-country research project to identify the cause of NS and to study the link between onchocerciasis and epilepsy.
We reviewed NSETHIO activities as well as all published papers, and compared project findings with results of previous research on NS.
Findings from the NSETHIO project showed that NS is only one of the clinical manifestations in the wide spectrum of onchocerciasis-associated epilepsy (OAE) that could be prevented by strengthening onchocerciasis elimination programs. NSETHIO demonstrated that OAE is an important neglected public health problem in onchocerciasis-endemic areas with no or a sub-optimally functioning onchocerciasis control strategies.
Today there is overwhelming evidence that NS together with the Nakalanga syndrome is clinical presentations of OAE, a condition that could be prevented by strengthening onchocerciasis elimination programs. While research needs to continue to elucidate the pathophysiological mechanisms causing NS, new strategies to accelerate onchocerciasis elimination coupled with community-based surveillance and treatment programs for epilepsy are urgently needed in areas of high