Accuracy of the WHO praziquantel dose pole for large-scale community treatment of urogenital schistosomiasis in northern Mozambique: Is it time for an update?

15 Nov 2018
Gazzinelli-Guimaraes PH, Dhanani N, King CH, Campbell CH, Aurelio HO, Ferro J, Nala R, Fenwick A, Phillips AE

BACKGROUND: A pioneering strategy developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the control of schistosomiasis was the concept of a height-based dose pole to determine praziquantel (PZQ) dosing in large-scale treatment campaigns. However, some recent studies have shown variable accuracy for the dose pole in terms of predicting correct mg/Kg dosing, particularly for treatment of adults. According to the WHO, 91 million adults in 52 countries are targeted to be treated by 2020.

METHODS/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: The present study aimed to test the accuracy of the dose pole in determining PZQ dosage by comparing the number of tablets determined by the dose pole with the number of tablets determined according to total body weight. The analysis included height-for-weight data from 9,827 school-aged children (SAC) and adults from 42 villages in the province of Cabo Delgado in Mozambique. The results revealed that of the 7,596 SAC, 91.8% has received an appropriate dose (30-60mg/Kg), 6% received an insufficient dose (<30mg/Kg) and 2% an excessive dose (> 60mg/Kg). On the other hand, 13.7% out of 2,231 adults were treated inaccurately with 13.5% receiving an insufficient dose. When the percentage of insufficient dosing was disaggregated by gender, the frequency of adult females who were underdosed reached 18.3% versus 10.8% of adult males. Adult females aged 21-55 years were found to have an underdose frequency of 21.3%, compared to 11.8% of adult males in the same age range. The performance of a proposed modified dose pole was compared using the same dataset of adult Mozambicans. The results showed that the modified dose pole reduced the underdose frequency among adults from 13.5% to 10.4%, and subsequently increasing the percentage of optimal dosing from 33.7% to 45.3%.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings highlight the need to update the WHO-dose pole to avoid administration of insufficient PZQ doses to adults and therefore minimize the potential emergence of PZQ-resistant strains.