Soil-transmitted helminths (or intestinal worms) are a group of intestinal parasites that thrive in places where the soil is warm and humid and sanitation is poor. The most common STH-causing parasites are roundworm, whipworm and hookworm.

STH mass drug administration status for school-age children (2016)

Preventive chemotherapy coverage for pre-school and school-age children

WHO roadmap target:

Control by 2020

  • 75% of pre-school and school-age children in need are treated by 2020

The global programme passed the half billion mark in 2016, reaching 531 million children in need of deworming. This represents 63% of global need, an increase from 58.5% in 2015. 77 of the 103 endemic countries reported conducting deworming of school-aged children.

531 million children reached in 2016 by global deworming programmes 77 endemic countries reported conducting deworming of SAC

The reported coverage of pre-school- age children (51%) was less than that of school-age children (69%), partly because of insufficient drug donation for this group. This is expected to be filled by late 2018. New guidance from WHO in 2017 is to extend treatment to the estimated 688 million women of reproductive age in endemic areas, 20% of whom are estimated to receive treatment in LF programmes.

With strong programme support, the 10 high-burden countries started deworming, a major step for the global programme. Additional support will be essential to enable the remaining countries to launch control programmes.

The STH community is supporting WHO in developing monitoring and evaluation tools, building on WHO guidance and using the most efficient platforms for reaching women of reproductive age.

While there is a fairly robust research portfolio, including limited studies on elimination, diagnostic tools and drug resistance, there are still not enough new tools to accelerate progress significantly and establish a pathway towards elimination. Work is ongoing for assessing pregnancy among women of reproductive age, and additional research is vital for reaching this population.

Additional indicators are required. The forthcoming WHO compendium on STH will provide current guidance for programmes at each stage of control.

688 million women to benefit from new WHO guidance extending treatment to women of reproductive age

All requests for drugs were met. More requests are expected in order to supply countries that have a smaller burden of these diseases, which have not started deworming. A chewable tablet for preschool-age children is expected to become available in late 2018, which will help to reach this underserved population.

This is part of Reaching a Billion, the fifth progress report of the London Declaration on NTDs. Read the full report.