The Impact of Lymphatic Filariasis Mass Drug Administration Scaling Down on Soil-Transmitted Helminth Control in School-Age Children

Present Situation and Expected Impact from 2016 to 2020

Citation: Mupfasoni D, Montresor A, Mikhailov A, King J (2016) The Impact of Lymphatic Filariasis Mass Drug Administration Scaling Down on Soil-Transmitted Helminth Control in School-Age Children. Present Situation and Expected Impact from 2016 to 2020. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 10(12): e0005202. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0005202
Published: December 19, 2016

Lymphatic filariasis (LF) and soil-transmitted-helminths (STH) are co-endemic in 58 countries which are mostly in Africa and Asia. Worldwide, 486 million school-age children are considered at risk of both diseases. In 2000, the World Health Organization (WHO) established the global programme to eliminate LF by 2020. Since then, the LF elimination programme has distributed ivermectin or diethylcarbamazine citrate (DEC) in combination with albendazole, thereby also treating STH. Consequently, many school-age children have been treated for STH through the LF programme. As treatment targets towards the 2020 LF elimination goal are achieved, many countries are implementing the transmission assessment survey (TAS) and, if the LF prevalence is estimated to be less than 1%, scaling down mass drug administration (MDA). We analysed the 2014 data on preventive chemotherapy (PC) reported from LF STH co-endemic countries and projected the year and location of TAS expected to be conducted between 2016 and 2020 to assess the impact of this scaling down on STH PC. Eighty percent of all co-endemic countries that have already stopped LF MDA nationally were able to establish STH PC through schools. It is estimated that 14% of the total number of children presently covered by the LF programme is at risk of not continuing to receive PC for STH. In order to achieve and maintain the WHO 2020 goal for STH control, there is an urgent need to establish and reinforce school-based deworming programmes in countries scaling-down national LF elimination programmes.

Author Summary: Lymphatic filariasis (LF) and soil-transmitted helminths (STH) (i.e. intestinal worms) are two tropical diseases that are found together in 58 countries in the world. School-age children are most affected by intestinal worms, albendazole, one of the two drugs used for LF, also treats STH. For this reason, large-scale delivery of LF drugs in the community has been used as a means to also treat school-age children for intestinal worm infections in many countries. In line with the WHO goal to eliminate LF by 2020, countries that have achieved that objective have started stopping community-based LF treatment. Therefore, we analysed treatment data from 2014 to quantify the effect of this reduction on treatment of school-age children for intestinal worms. The results show that 80% of countries that have already stopped LF treatment were able to administer deworming drugs for STH to school-age children within school-based treatment programmes. There is an urgent need to continue to establish and strengthen deworming through school health programmes in endemic countries in order to meet the WHO established goal to treat at least 75% of at risk school-age children for STH by 2020.


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