Title : Key elements for enhancing the impact of NTD research The BLMs4BU research project
There is an imbalance in the public health research agenda, which disproportionately focuses on the most prevalent diseases in the Global North, leaving other global health research priorities in the background. Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) affect more than one billion people worldwide and particularly affect people living in on tropical and subtropical areas, particularly the most vulnerable, marginalized and impoverished communities. NTDs have long-term consequences such as physical impairment and permanent disability, stigmatization, social exclusion and discrimination, which perpetuate cycles of poverty. The 2021–2030 WHO road map for NTDs points out that to reduce this devastating human, social and economic burden, a comprehensive research agenda is required, from fundamental and clinical research to implementation research, linked to programmatic action.
The BLMs4BU is a clinical trial that evaluates the efficacy of a triple oral antibiotherapy to potentially improve healing and shorten Buruli ulcer (BU) treatment from 8 to 4 weeks. This research takes place in Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Togo, and it is led by an international Consortium in collaboration with the National Health Ministry programmes. The BLMs4BU research explicitly incorporates elements to strengthen the impact of research on its process, beyond the results it may yield. Thus, community participation, awareness-raising campaigns and sustainable technical and human capacity building activities are a backbone of this research project. In addition, in order to bridge the gap between the knowledge and implementation, elements that facilitate the transferability of knowledge have been considered from its design, including an analysis of barriers to access to BU treatment and an advocacy strategy. These key elements enhancing impact included in the BLMs4BU research project constitute good practices and could be exportable to other research projects in the field of NTDs.