Article in BBC News about Mass deworming (Stanford University team's research recommends mass treatment of whole communities)

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Article in BBC News about Mass deworming (Stanford University team's research recommends mass treatment of whole communities)

Hi,

It is very very rare that the mainstream media in Europe says something about deworming in developing countries, so I was happy to find a piece today on BBC News, perhaps prompted by this WHO announcement.

It's called:
"Call for mass de-worming exercise"

See here:
www.bbc.com/news/health-34256638

And an image from the article:



My natural instinct is to copy the whole article here but I better don't (copyright!). So I only copy the main sentences:

The Stanford University team says the World Health Organization needs to step up its response - but the WHO says this could breed drug-resistant infections.
Currently, eradication is focused largely on school-aged children living in high-prevalence areas.
The Stanford team's research recommends mass treatment of whole communities.
Worms affect a quarter of the world's population.


and:

By their calculations, outlined in The Lancet Global Health journal, it would cost about £109 per person per year, which they say is highly cost effective.
Lead researcher Dr Jason Andrews said: "We found that when you do so, the results strongly support a much broader treatment scope than has been historically recommended."
But the WHO says it has no plans of changing its current strategy. Targeting more people risks the development of drug resistant infections, it says.
"If drug pressure is too intense, it may promote selection of resistant worms, as has occurred in veterinary parasitology; repetition of the same error in tackling human health should be avoided," a spokesman said.


109 British pounds per person per year is a lot of money! How did they derive at such a high cost, I wonder.

Also that thing about drug resistance is interesting. So far, we haven't really heard much about worms getting resistant to anthelmintic drugs.

(on the Wikipedia page about mass deworming that Joe had started, we formulated it like this:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_deworming#Reinfection_and_resistance )

By the way, Sarah used the term "chemotherapy". This term most people link with cancer treatment... The term more commonly used for mass deworming is also "preventive chemotherapy" (PC). I have added a hatnote to that effect on the page of chemotherapy:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemotherapy

Regards,
Elisabeth
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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  • joeturner
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Re: WHO strengthens focus on water, sanitation and hygiene to accelerate elimination of neglected tropical diseases

It took me a long time to find the Lancet paper, because the BBC do not link to it in their report. It is here:

www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/articl...5%2900047-9/fulltext

The BBC report says:

By their calculations, outlined in The Lancet Global Health journal, it would cost about £109 per person per year, which they say is highly cost effective.


That's not what the report says:

Treatment costs were estimated at US$0·74 for school-aged children and $1·74 for preschool-aged children and adults.


The complication is that the BBC has misunderstood what was being calculated. What they've actually calculated is the cost per averted DALY over 15 years, so clearly each individual only has a small amount of a DALY averted per dose of medication.

The report says:

We projected that treatment of only school-aged children would avert 288 DALYs over 15 years at a cost of $34 122 (ICER $118 per DALY averted

, varying among the communities from $87 to $141 per DALY averted). Our model suggests that coverage of the entire community would result in an additional 1443 DALYs averted at an incremental cost of $240 695 (ICER $167 per DALY averted, varying among the communities from $101 to $463 per DALY averted). Community-wide MDA was therefore highly cost effective by comparison with treatment of only school-aged children


Which goes to show that you can't even trust the science reporting on the BBC.
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  • Elisabeth
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Re: WHO strengthens focus on water, sanitation and hygiene to accelerate elimination of neglected tropical diseases

Wow! Thanks for doing the additional research here, Joe!
That's scary that the BBC article reported total nonsense then when they said:

By their calculations, outlined in The Lancet Global Health journal, it would cost about £109 per person per year, which they say is highly cost effective.


Do you think it's worth pointing their error out to them? Or maybe we could alert the authors of that Lancet study and they should request a correction to the article?
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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Twitter: @EvMuench
Founder of WikiProject Sanitation: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation
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  • joeturner
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Re: WHO strengthens focus on water, sanitation and hygiene to accelerate elimination of neglected tropical diseases

Yes, I have pointed this out to the BBC Health editors. I suspect the authors of the paper will be also pointing it out when they realise what the BBC report says.

It looks like the £109 is the $167 per DALY averted in the section of the paper I have quoted above. If if it isn't, it is still wrong.
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