This editorial article originally appeared on The Coalition for Operational Research for NTDs website. See the original article.

Logos of funders and implementing partners

Logos of funders: UK aid and USAID, and logos of partners COR-NTD and ARNTD

The Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Disease (COR-NTD) and the African Research Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (ARNTD) are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2021 African Researchers’ Small Grants Program. Sixteen researchers (10 males and 6 females) from eight African countries have been selected as the fifth cohort of the Program (SGP V). The ARNTD, which manages the Small Grants Program, received 372 applications for SGP V, 38 of which made it to the final round for consideration. Congratulations to the recipients.

With generous funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and UK aid from UK Government, the African Researchers’ Small Grants Program has provided more than $1.5 million in research funds to 70 researchers over 15 countries, including this cohort. These efforts contribute to the World Health Organization’s Roadmap:  “Ending the neglect to attain the Sustainable Development Goals: A road map for neglected tropical diseases 2021–2030.”

According to the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa, the African continent has 40 percent of the burden of NTDs worldwide. “Involvement of African entities in science, research and advocacy has been rather limited due to a scarcity of research experts, policy makers and implementers in the region,” said John Amuasi, Executive Director of the African Research Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (ARNTD). “The African Researchers’ Small Grants Program aims to address that gap by investing directly in promising scientists in Africa.”

ARNTD facilitates the program through COR-NTD. “We are proud of our partnership with ARNTD over the past five years,” said Patrick Lammie, Director of the Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center, which serves as COR-NTD Secretariat. “This important initiative helps to build research capacity on the African continent.”

“USAID is very excited to support this year’s cohort,” said Joseph Shott, Health Scientist in the Division of Neglected Tropical Diseases, Global Health Bureau, USAID. “Research from past cohorts is already netting excellent results to further the NTD operational research agenda to improve NTD programs. I have no doubt that the research from this new cohort will continue these efforts.”

“Congratulations to the Small Grants Program awardees,” said Dirk Mueller, Senior Health Adviser in the Health Research Team of the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). “The breadth of research to generate knowledge and diagnostics that can directly inform programmatic decisions around program monitoring, stopping, and surveillance is superb and much needed.”

USAID-Funded Researchers and Studies

Robert Opiro Exploration of Simulium microbiomes as a novel vector control-based approach against onchocerciasis
Kwadwo Kyereme Frempong Development and validation of Simulium damnosum genetic markers for surveillance of onchocerciasis in Ghana during the elimination phase of the disease
Lum Abienwi Ambe Validation of two Onchocerca volvulus secretory antigens in urine for diagnosis of onchocerciasis
Abdallah Zacharia Development and validation of dried urine spot method for detection of Schistosoma circulating antigens from a resource limited archetype in Tanzania
Pearl Ugochi Ofoegbu Environmental DNA (eDNA) as a tool for detecting schistosome snail hosts in Nigeria and possible impacts of environmental factors
Derrick Bary Abila Barriers and facilitators of the integrating female genital schistosomiasis screening using digital colposcopy in reproductive health clinics in a schistosomiasis endemic area of Eastern Uganda
Lamine Soumaoro Xenomonitoring utilisant une nouvelle technique qPCR plus sensible: un outil endgame pour la surveillance intégrée de la filariose lymphatique en post-administration médicamenteuse de masse
Akua Obeng Forson Challenges and opportunities in achieving sustainable coverage of mass drug administration towards the control and elimination of soil transmitted helminths and Schistosomiasis in hard to reach communities of Ghana
Virtue Fiawokome De-Gaulle Ivermectin-based Community Mass Treatment: Perspective for Accelerating the soil transmitted helminths Elimination in Cameroon and Ghana
Achille Sinbimbasba Nikiema Le Xenomonitoring pour produire des preuves supplémentaires d’interruption de la transmission de la filariose lymphatique dans les zones post traitement de masse au Burkina Faso

UK Aid-Funded Researchers and Studies

Hammed Oladeji Mogaji Impact of COVID-19 on mass drug administration campaigns targeting schistosomiasis and STH: A post-lockdown evaluation of coverage, non-compliance and health workers motivation in some hard-to-reach communities in Southwest Nigeria
Sylvie Kwedi Nolna A collaboration model between the national NTD control programs and traditional healers to detect additional cases of lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis and schistosomiasis in Cameroon
Noel Namuhani Use of Community Health clubs to deliver interventions for prevention and control of schistosomiasis among fishing communities in Mayuge district, Eastern Uganda
Demsy Terwase Audu Impact of Armed-Conflict on onchocerciasis elimination programme in Benue and Taraba States, Nigeria
Gladys Charles Mbwanji Assessing the utility of female genital schistosomiasis symptoms and risk factors checklist and efficacy of praziquantel on genital lesions associated with urogenital schistosomiasis in adolescent girls and women in Maswa District
Victoire Nama Djinthe Les facteurs explicatifs de l’accès aux soins de santé de la filariose lymphatique chez les réfugiés des camps de Lolo et Mbile, dans la région de l’Est du Cameroun