Leishmania, Malaria and Neglected Tropical Disease

Background

The malaria and NTD team was established in July2006 with the objective of strengthening research, capacity building and networking in the area. The main focus of the group is immunology, epidemiology and molecular biology and application of geographical information system and remote sensing in Malaria, Leishmaniases, and other NTDs, research. So far the group contributed in molecular characterization of standardizing of DNA based typing techniques and typing of Leishmania species circulating in the country. In the field of Malaria the team had contributed in the epidemiology, genetic diversity, drug resistance patterns and genetic surveillance for possible emergence/introduction of ATL resistant malaria. The team developed the risk mapping of leishmaniases in Ethiopia.

Major Area of the Research

Malaria, Leishmaniasis, Arboviral and other neglected tropical diseases

Current Projects/Studies/Activities

  • Understanding the dynamics and infectivity of low-density asymptomatic malaria carriage in low and moderate endemic settings in Ethiopia - are they challenges for malaria elimination?" relevant.
  • Chloroquine Drug Resistance and Patchy Distribution in Ethiopia
  • Innate immunity in leishmaniasis
  • (Re) emerging Viral diseases of public health importance: Initiative towards capacity building for clinical research in Arboviral infection.
  • Out-bread response: assessment of visceral leishmaniasis in Fagita Lekoma district, Amhara regional state.
  • Assessment of knowledge, attitudes and practice of visceral leishmaniasis in settlers and temporary immigrant farm Laborers in northern Ethiopia
  • Diagnostic performance of antigen based Immunochromatographic test for the diagnosis of Visceral Leishmaniasis in Ethiopia.

Achievements

Since 2006, the team published over 50 articles in peer reviewed Journals. And more than 6 MSc and PhD level thesis works were done and successfully defended. In addition to the team’s resilience in continuing research and capacity building, it is active in giving fee professional services.  In a country like Ethiopia, where over 83.6% the population lives in rural areas with infectious diseases and malnutrition still being public health concerns operational research plays indispensable role. Thus in addition to the traditionally known strength of AHRI in basic biomedical research; our team is proactive and productive in operational research. Leishmaniases are (re)emerging public health problem spreading to new areas previously not known to be endemic. Thus cognizant to the need, using geographical information system (GIS) and remote sensing (RS) techniques the team developed risk map of cutaneous (Figure 2) and visceral leishmaniasis (Figure 3); identified risk areas and population at risk for use by the control program.

Figure 2: Risk map of cutaneous leishmaniasis developed by Spatial Weighted Overlay and summarized at zone level

Figure 3: Risk map of visceral leishmaniasis developed by Spatial Weighted Overlay and summarized at zone level

 

Moreover, a work has been done which identified risk kebeles (Figure 4) and temporal determinants of visceral leishmaniasis in Kafta-Humera (Figure 5), one of the most affected areas in Ethiopia to aid planning of more focused control.

Figure 4: Visceral leishmaniasis risk kebele of Kafta-Humera, the map was developed by Spatial Weighted Overlay.

 

Figure: 5 temporal pattern of visceral leishmaniasis in Kafta-Humera: from left to right Visceral leishmaniasis vs average annual temperature, rainfall and normalized vegetation index.

 

In terms of capacity building there are 3 PhD and 2 MSc level students working with the team. From the side of the providing fee professional services: the team identified the need, established Leishmania culture capacity and trained staffs at the Bahir Dar, Amhara Regional laboratory (Photo 1).

Photo 1. Team members training the regional staff on Leishmania culture and smear microscopy

 

As a member of the national Neglected Tropical Disease Control task force, the team was involved in the revision of NTDs five year master plan (2016-202, 2nd edition). Besides the team was part of the technical working group in revision of the guideline for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of Leishmaniasis in Ethiopia 2nd edition June, 2013.