Challenges and opportunities for control and elimination of soil-transmitted helminth infection beyond 2020

15 Apr 2019
Freeman MC, Akogun O, Belizario V Jr, Brooker SJ, Gyorkos TW, Imtiaz R, Krolewiecki A, Lee S, Matendechero SH, Pullan RL, Utzinger J,

More than half of the world’s population lives in places endemic for soil-transmitted helminths (STHs), and an estimated 1.45 billion people are infected. In 2017, the global burden of STH infection (Ascaris lumbricoides, hookworm, and Trichuris trichiura) was estimated at 1.9 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs). Moderate and heavy infection intensity and chronic STH infection are associated with anemia, malnutrition, educational loss, and cognitive deficits, but recent systematic reviews and meta-analyses produced conflicting results on the impact of preventive chemotherapy (PC).

The Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis Advisory Committee (hereafter called “the Committee”) is a group of independent experts with a broad range of expertise. It is convened annually by Children Without Worms (CWW), an organization whose purpose is to utilize available evidence to identify best practices and opportunities for the prevention and control of STH infection. On November 1 and 2, 2017, the Committee met in Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America, in order to discuss the critical need to develop a data-driven guide to the STH endgame on late-stage program functioning, processes, and surveillance. The focus was on research and field experiences from countries approaching the “elimination of STH infection as a public health problem” after consecutive years of PC and countries that are now considering scaling down their PC frequency but may be concerned about infection rebound. Emphasis was placed on interim recommendations for monitoring and decision-making for national program managers desiring to achieve the World Health Organization (WHO) goal of eliminating STH infection as a public health problem by 2020, particularly related to STH infections in risk groups other than school-age children (SAC), namely preschool-age children (PSAC) and women of reproductive age (WRA). The following is the Committee’s recommendations stemming from the Baltimore meeting in November 2017. It complements and updates the publication derived by the Committee’s meeting a year earlier in Basel, Switzerland, and was instrumental in shaping the agenda for the October 2018 meeting, convened jointly by CWW and WHO, with recommendations to be reported elsewhere.