STH Coalition Action Group refocuses Coalition Efforts for 2017
Participants of the second annual STH Coalition Action Group second, held in February 2017, identified 2017 Coalition focus areas including: robust monitoring of drug treatment coverage and disease prevalence and intensity of infection; and expanded access to quality generic drugs. Participants recognized the recent increases in drug coverage globally and the important reductions in disease resulting from preventive chemotherapy. These achievements are causes for optimism as we approach the 2020 goal to eliminate soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH), or intestinal worm infections, as a public health problem.
First, the STH community should broaden our focus from preventive chemotherapy alone to include controlling and measuring intense infections in at-risk populations -- those most likely to suffer the negative effects of STH. The STH community will call on national programs and partners to conduct parasitologic monitoring broadly. Parasitologic survey results should guide technical assistance efforts and programmatic decision-making as well as help partners better understand current global, national, and sub-national STH epidemiology.
Second, the Action Group identified access to quality medications as critical success factor for sustaining gains. The global STH control strategy is anticipated to continue beyond 2020, after which drug donations become less certain. Many Coalition members, for example those treating preschool age children, rely on procured drugs which must meet strict quality standards. Currently, there is no consistently available generic drug of reliable quality to meet the ongoing need for the millions of people around the world that are at risk. Coalition partners are discussing options for ensuring continued drug access.
The Action Group meeting, organized and facilitated by Children Without Worms (CWW), brought together 26 participants from 19 organizations. With millions of people at risk in more than a hundred countries, partnerships and coordination are critical. Though preventable and treatable, control of STH is complex, particularly given the wide geographic distribution of disease and the large number of infected individuals. Through the STH Coalition, CWW has brought together a diverse set of partners – which specialize in everything from poverty reduction and public health research to improved sanitation – for a comprehensive response.