Key stakeholders in the global fight to eliminate intestinal worms as a public health problem will now emphasize measuring disease levels to track program impact. This shift is a result of an agreement advanced at the February meeting of the STH Coalition Action Group, a body coordinated by Children Without Worms (CWW), a program of The Task Force for Global Health.
Mass drug administration (MDA) with deworming medicines has reduced the global burden of intestinal worms. Drug treatment coverage rates have been the traditional measure used to track programs in endemic countries. Soil-transmitted helminths (STH) levels, however, have not been well monitored to assess the impact of these programs on communities.
“Program impact is best assessed by measuring the burden of disease in people who have participated in MDA,” said CWW director Rubina Imtiaz, MD. “Following years of deworming treatment, it is now of utmost importance to know if this burden was lowered in treated communities so resources can be allocated to areas and age groups with the highest needs.”
CWW and partners are currently working with national STH programs in Bangladesh and other countries to improve their capacity to monitor STH levels. These efforts include developing new monitoring methods and diagnostic tests, and strengthening data collection and management.
STH affects more than one billion people worldwide and causes stunted growth, anemia, cognitive impairment, and reduced vaccination effectiveness.
The STH Coalition includes the World Health Organization (WHO), USAID, Johnson & Johnson, GSK, and 60 other partners. WHO has set a 2020 target for eliminating STH as a public health problem.
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