Background: On 1 April 2020, the WHO recommended an interruption of all activities for the control of neglected tropical diseases, including soil-transmitted helminths (STH), in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This paper investigates the impact of this disruption on the progress towards the WHO 2030 target for STH. Methods: We used two stochastic individual-based models to simulate the impact of missing one or more preventive chemotherapy (PC) rounds in different endemicity settings. We also investigated the extent to which this impact can be lessened by mitigation strategies, such as semiannual or community-wide PC. Results: Both models show that without a mitigation strategy, control programmes will catch up by 2030, assuming that coverage is maintained. The catch-up time can be up to 4.5 y after the start of the interruption. Mitigation strategies may reduce this time by up to 2 y and increase the probability of achieving the 2030 target. Conclusions: Although a PC interruption will only temporarily impact the progress towards the WHO 2030 target, programmes are encouraged to restart as soon as possible to minimise the impact on morbidity. The implementation of suitable mitigation strategies can turn the interruption into an opportunity to accelerate progress towards reaching the target.
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene|
|Early online date||14 Dec 2020|
|Publication status||Published - Mar 2021|
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