Posted: November 7, 2019

STH Advisory Committee meets in Liverpool, September 2019

Girija Sankar

Photo credit: Children Without Worms

The 2019 annual meeting of the STH Advisory Committee (STHAC) was held September 15-16, in Liverpool, UK. Dr. Jürg Utzinger, Professor and Director of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, chaired the proceedings. Meeting participants included STHAC members, STH leaders from the WHO, Johnson & Johnson, GSK, and invited speakers from the World Bank, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Lancaster University, DOLF, DeWorm3 project, and Evidence Action. Over two days, STHAC members reviewed STH updates on research, diagnostics, inclusion of strongyloidiasis in STH morbidity elimination, persisting data issues, and a formativediscussion on sustainability of NTD programs through thoughtful transition to national “ownership”.

Meeting  highlights included an initiation of a dialogue on sustainability in the NTD context, and what that means from the national program perspective. Discussions touched on the opportunities  to learn from previous efforts such as the African Program for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC). There was also a stated need to share tools and country engagement processes across major actors in this area for optimal coordination and to project STH (as the least “vertical” NTD) in all cross-NTD planning. Key outcomes of this year’s meeting will be detailed in a report to be shared in the coming months.

Additional highlights included a presentation on a new geospatial model for projecting sampling needs for STH and analysis of ESPEN data by Dr. Rachel Pullan (STHAC member) to show persistent mismatch between disease and intervention maps in Africa. This, and relateddiagnostic discussions led the STHAC to recommend that a follow-up meeting be organized to develop standard STH sampling methods that link to WHO indicator thresholds. These should incorporate existing diagnostics (Kato-Katz) but also be flexibly responsive to include future, more sensitive diagnostics as those become available (e.g. PCR methods). A second follow-up meeting shall be organized by the STHAC to further define the processes, evidence and metrics for including Strongyloidiasis in the WHO STH program.

These and other recommendations will soon be available in the meeting report posted on CWW’s website:

The STHAC welcomed Dr. Bruno Levecke, and Ms. Lisa Rotondo, as new members on the committee. Their addition will bring much-needed diagnostic, epidemiologic and implementation expertise to the STHAC.

The STHAC also recognized Dr. Vicente Belizario’s service to the STH community as he steps down to carry on full time, his role as the Dean of the College of Public Health, at the University of the Philippines, Manila. Dr. Belizario served as an STHAC member for over 6 years and was briefly the chair of the STHAC. He brought his extensive and valuable STH control and public health experience as a leading public health and NTD leader from the Philippines and WPRO, to the STHAC.

About the STH Advisory Committee:

The STHAC is an independent group of research and national program leaders with expertise in in public health, diagnostics, epidemiology, child and school health, who assess the global accomplishments and persistent needs/gaps towards the WHO STH goals and provide relevant technical and scientific advice on STH control to donors, researchers, pharmaceutical companies, and non-governmental and governmental implementers. CWW is the secretariat of the STHAC.

STH Advisory Committee members (alphabetical order):

Dr. Theresa Gyorkos, Senior Scientist, Infectious Diseases and Immunity in Global Health Program, McGill University,

Dr. Ajay Khera, Commissioner Child Health, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India

Dr. Alejandro Krolewiecki, Tropical Diseases Research Institute, National University of Salta, Argentina

Dr. Seung Lee, Senior Director, School Health and Nutrition, Save the Children US

Dr. Bruno Levecke, Department of Virology, Parasitology, and Immunology, University of Ghent

Dr. Sultani Matendechero, Head, Division of Vector Borne and Neglected Tropical Diseases, Ministry of Health, Kenya

Dr. Rachel Pullan, Associate Professor, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Ms. Lisa Rotondo, Director, Act to End NTDs, East and ENVISION Projects, RTI International

Dr. Jürg Utzinger, Professor and Director, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (STHAC Chair)