Lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminths, and trachoma are the five most prevalent neglected tropical diseases in the world, and each is frequently treated with mass drug administrations. We performed a survey of neglected tropical diseases experts to elicit their opinions on the role of mass drug administrations for the elimination of these infections.
We sent an online survey to corresponding authors who had published an article about a neglected tropical disease from 2007 to 2011. Of 825 unique authors who were invited to complete the survey, 365 (44.2%) responded, including 234 (28.4%) who answered questions regarding one of the five most prevalent neglected tropical diseases. Respondents had varying opinions about the goals of programmatic activities for their chosen neglected tropical disease, with elimination or eradication identified as the most important goal by 87% of lymphatic filariasis respondents, 66% of onchocerciasis respondents, 55% of trachoma respondents, 24% of schistosomiasis respondents, and 21% of soil-transmitted helminth respondents. Mass drug administrations, other non-medication health measures, and education were generally thought to be more important for elimination than vector control, development of a new tool, or the presence of a secular trend. Drug resistance was thought to be a major limitation of mass drug administrations for all five neglected tropical diseases. Over half of respondents for lymphatic filariasis and trachoma thought that repeated mass drug administrations could eliminate infection within ten years of the initiation of mass treatments.
Respondents for lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, and trachoma were more enthusiastic about the prospects of elimination and eradication than were respondents for schistosomiasis or soil-transmitted helminths. Mass drug administrations were generally believed to be among the most important factors for the success of elimination efforts for each of the five neglected tropical diseases, highlighting the opportunity for integrating drug distributions.
Mass drug administrations are used for each of the five most common neglected tropical diseases: lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminths, and trachoma. Three of these infections—lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, and trachoma—are officially targeted for elimination, and mass drug administrations play a key role in the elimination plans for each. While progress has been demonstrated for each of these diseases, it is unclear whether researchers of these diseases think that elimination is feasible, or whether mass drug administrations should play an important role given the potential for drug resistance. We performed a survey of neglected tropical diseases experts to assess their opinions on the likelihood of elimination and the role of mass drug administrations for the five most common neglected tropical diseases. Most experts in lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, and trachoma thought elimination was the appropriate goal of treatment programs, whereas most experts in schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminths thought that treatment programs were intended to control, but not eliminate, infection. Drug resistance was thought to be a major limitation for each of the infections. Although there were differences between the five infections, mass drug administrations, non-medication health measures, and education were generally thought to be the most important pieces of a control program.