A research and development agenda for the control and elimination of human helminthiases.
In this issue of PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, the Disease Reference Group on Helminth Infections (DRG4) has put forward a collection of eight reviews that, taken together, outline a compelling research and development agenda for the control and elimination of helminth diseases of humans (http://www.ploscollections.org/helminths –). Emphasis is placed on six major helminth infections: (i) soil-transmitted helminthiasis; (ii) schistosomiasis; (iii) lymphatic filariasis; (iv) onchocerciasis; (v) food-borne trematodiasis; and (vi) cysticercosis/taeniasis. Selection of these helminthiases is justified on multiple grounds. Firstly, as shown in Table 1, more than half of the world's population is at risk of one or several of these helminthiases, and hundreds of millions of people are currently infected. Secondly, consequences of the mainly long-term chronic infection include suffering, stigmatisation, subtle and gross morbidity (e.g., anaemia, limb deformations and blindness), and premature death, hence causing an intolerable global burden –. These features, in turn, exacerbate poverty –. Thirdly, there is growing commitment at all levels—from local communities to politicians, philanthropic organisations, and civil society—to control and eventually eliminate/eradicate the major human helminthiases.