Sustained preventive chemotherapy for soil-transmitted helminthiases leads to reduction in prevalence and anthelminthic tablets required.Infect Dis Poverty. 2019 Oct 02; 8(1):82.ID
The goal of soil-transmitted helminthiases (STH) control programmes is to eliminate STH-associated morbidity in the target population by reducing the prevalence of moderate- and heavy-intensity infections and the overall STH infection prevalence mainly through preventive chemotherapy (PC) with either albendazole or mebendazole. Endemic countries should measure the success of their control programmes through regular epidemiological assessments. We evaluated changes in STH prevalence in countries that conducted effective PC coverage for STH to guide changes in the frequency of PC rounds and the number of tablets needed.
We selected countries from World Health Organization (WHO)'s Preventive Chemotherapy and Transmission control (PCT) databank that conducted ≥5 years of PC with effective coverage for school-age children (SAC) and extracted STH baseline and impact assessment data using the WHO Epidemiological Data Reporting Form, Ministry of Health reports and/or peer-reviewed publications. We used pooled and weighted means to plot the prevalence of infection with any STH and with each STH species at baseline and after ≥5 years of PC with effective coverage. Finally, using the WHO STH decision tree, we estimated the reduction in the number of tablets needed.
Fifteen countries in four WHO regions conducted annual or semi-annual rounds of PC for STH for 5 years or more and collected data before and after interventions. At baseline, the pooled prevalence was 48.9% (33.1-64.7%) for any STH, 23.2% (13.7-32.7%) for Ascaris lumbricoides, 21.01% (9.7-32.3%) for Trichuris trichiura and 18.2% (10.9-25.5%) for hookworm infections, while after ≥5 years of PC for STH, the prevalence was 14.3% (7.3-21.3%) for any STH, 6.9% (1.3-12.5%) for A. lumbricoides, 5.3% (1.06-9.6%) for T. trichiura and 8.1% (4.0-12.2%) for hookworm infections.
Countries endemic for STH have made tremendous progress in reducing STH-associated morbidity, but very few countries have data to demonstrate that progress. In this study, the data show that nine countries should adapt their PC strategies and the frequency of PC rounds to yield a 36% reduction in drug needs. The study also highlights the importance of impact assessment surveys to adapt control strategies according to STH prevalence.