Research Article: Large-Scale Preventive Chemotherapy for the Control of Helminth Infection in Western Pacific Countries: Six Years Later

Date Published: August 27, 2008

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Antonio Montresor, Dai Tran Cong, Mouth Sinuon, Reiko Tsuyuoka, Chitsavang Chanthavisouk, Hanne Strandgaard, Raman Velayudhan, Corinne M. Capuano, Tuan Le Anh, Ah S. Tee Dató, Simon Brooker

Abstract: In 2001, Urbani and Palmer published a review of the epidemiological situation of helminthiases in the countries of the Western Pacific Region of the World Health Organization indicating the control needs in the region. Six years after this inspiring article, large-scale preventive chemotherapy for the control of helminthiasis has scaled up dramatically in the region. This paper analyzes the most recent published and unpublished country information on large-scale preventive chemotherapy and summarizes the progress made since 2000. Almost 39 million treatments were provided in 2006 in the region for the control of helminthiasis: nearly 14 million for the control of lymphatic filariasis, more than 22 million for the control of soil-transmitted helminthiasis, and over 2 million for the control of schistosomiasis. In general, control of these helminthiases is progressing well in the Mekong countries and Pacific Islands. In China, despite harboring the majority of the helminth infections of the region, the control activities have not reached the level of coverage of countries with much more limited financial resources. The control of food-borne trematodes is still limited, but pilot activities have been initiated in China, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and Vietnam.

Partial Text: The neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a group of parasitic infections that are among the most common infections in the world’s poorest populations [1]. Six of the most prevalent NTDs are due to helminths: lymphatic filariasis, soil-transmitted helminthiasis (including ascariasis, trichuriasis, and hookworm infection), schistosomiasis, and food-borne trematode infections. Epidemiological studies suggest extensive geographic overlap among these diseases, especially among impoverished populations with limited access to health services and sanitation [2].

The data presented on the number of people covered by large-scale preventive chemotherapy in the WPR have been gathered from international publications, internal reports from the ministries of health of different countries, technical reports to donors, personal communication to the authors, and direct involvement of the authors.

The elimination of LF is progressively scaling up in the region and it is presently covering 45% of the target population. The Mekong countries and most of the Pacific Islands are conducting efficient programmes. A major benefit of the PELF is the large number of individuals for which STH morbidity is prevented by the albendazole that is part of the combination therapy for LF. Therefore, an important aspect to be considered once the PELF campaigns terminate is how to maintain the benefit of control of STH obtained by the distribution of albendazole.



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