To highlight the gastrointestinal helminths in the context of renewed global commitment to control or eliminate neglected tropical diseases in the coming decade.
Two key documents, namely the 2012 London Declaration for Neglected Tropical Diseases and the 2013 World Health Assembly resolution, emphasize the importance of mass drug administration (MDA) for controlling several key neglected tropical diseases. These documents, together with the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010, establish the major gastrointestinal helminth infections, including the soil-transmitted helminthiases – ascariasis, trichuriasis, hookworm, and strongyloidiasis – in addition to the intestinal and liver fluke infections, as some of the most important gastrointestinal infections of humankind. Current MDA approaches using single-dose albendazole or mebendazole are effective for ascariasis, less so for other soil-transmitted helminth infections. Expanded use of albendazole in combination with ivermectin would ensure improved drug efficacies against trichuriasis and strongyloidiasis. There is no effective elimination strategy for targeting hookworm and liver and intestinal fluke infections through current MDA approaches.
The global community must expand current MDA efforts, while simultaneously developing additional drugs, diagnostics, and vaccines alongside better utilizing transmission dynamics and modeling, if it is to successfully meet the goals and targets established by policymakers.
National School of Tropical Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA
*Thomas R. McCarty and Joshua A. Turkeltaub are medical students at Baylor College of Medicine and contributed equally to the writing of the manuscript.
Correspondence to Peter J. Hotez, MD, PhD, National School of Tropical Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA. Tel: +1 713 798 1199; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org