Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis Advisory Committee Convenes at Swiss TPH

This year’s annual meeting of the Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis Advisory Committee, chaired by Jürg Utzinger, is hosted at Swiss TPH. Some 30 experts from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas meet on October 18 and 19 2016 to discuss, debate, deliberate and provide technical guidance on key developments in soil-transmitted helminthiasis control and elimination.

STH Advisory Committee convening at Swiss TPH, 17 October 2016 - Top (left to right): Theresa Gyorkos, Oladele Akogun, Vicente Belizario, Charles Mwandawiro, Alejandro Krolewiecki, Rachel Pullan, Matt Freeman. Bottom (left to right): Rubina Imtiaz (incoming Director of Children Without Worms), Jürg Utzinger (chair STH Advisory Committee), David Addiss (outgoing Director of ‘Children Without Worms’)

Soil-transmitted helminths (STHs) are parasitic worms that affect more than a billion people worldwide. In 2006, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) established Children Without Worms to provide technical and operational oversight of its donation of Vermox™ (500 mg mebendazole) for the treatment of STH in school-aged children.


The Mebendazole Advisory Committee (MAC) was formed to advise J&J and Children Without Worms on the most effective strategies to maximize the impact of the donation and to review and approve requests for Vermox donations based on established criteria. In 2010, J&J committed to increase its donation of Vermox to 200 million tablets per year and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) announced the annual donation of 400 million tablets of albendazole for the control of STH.


The medicines are donated directly to the World Health Organization (WHO) and national Ministries of Health request these and other drugs for preventive chemotherapy against STH and other neglected tropical diseases. WHO oversees and manages the drug request and approval processes as well as reporting of drug treatments.


In 2011, the MAC was reconstituted as the STH Advisory Committee. Since 2014, the STH Advisory Committee is chaired by Jürg Utzinger. The committee meets every year for 2 days to review progress and challenges towards the WHO 2020 milestones.


The key discussion points of this year’s STH Advisory Committee are to deliberate and provide technical guidance on the following issues:


  • implications of the so-called “lymphatic filariasis-to-STH transition” for sustaining the gains against STH made possible through the global programme for lymphastic filariasis elimination;
  • recommendations for investigating foci of unexpectedly high STH transmission in settings where preventive chemotherapy has been ongoing;
  • interim recommendations on monitoring and decision-making for national programme managers desiring to achieve the WHO goal of ‘eliminating STH as a public health problem’ by 2020, particularly related to STH in risk groups other than school-aged children (SAC); and
  • the contours of a post-2020 agenda for STH control.


(UTJ, 18.10.2016)