WHO Technical Advisory Group on schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiases control and elimination

25 Jun 2021

Schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiases (STH) are a significant global public health problem in 46 and 96 countries in which they are endemic respectively.

The public health strategy recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) against both diseases is to decrease morbidity through preventive chemotherapy and to intensify control and interrupt transmission where appropriate. Periodic large-scale administration of anthelminthic medicines focusing on the groups at risk aims to reduce the prevalence and intensity of infection in affected communities.

A decade ago, targets for schistosomiasis and STH were defined by process indicators (i.e. coverage of preventive chemotherapy). The targets for 2030 set in WHO’s new road map for neglected tropical diseases are to eliminate schistosomiasis and STH as a public health problem; precise definitions of the indicators and the process used to declare the targets achieved need to be defined.

The global programme for schistosomiasis and STH is therefore at a critical juncture. Technical support is needed to assist WHO in ensuring that countries and programmes are provided with advice and a framework on how to achieve and measure the ambitious targets of the road map.

Functions of the WHO Technical Advisory Group on schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiases control and elimination

  • To review current and evolving scientific evidence on the elimination of schistosomiasis and STH as public health problems and, based on that evidence, make recommendations for consideration by WHO for development of guidance to countries;
  • To review current WHO recommendations (or strategies) for schistosomiasis and STH control and elimination and identify where additional detail (guidance) is needed to overcome specific programmatic challenges identified by neglected tropical disease programmes; 
  • To develop strategic approaches on addressing such programmatic challenges where there is insufficient evidence available for a WHO recommendation;
  • To review gaps in the currently available evidence base and recommend priorities for research to address issues relevant to the elimination of schistosomiasis and STH;
  • To provide expert consensus when insufficient evidence is available to formulate recommendations in order that schistosomiasis and STH programmes can move forward with common strategies or with operational research the aims of which are to generate the evidence to support or refute the consensus recommendation;
  • To provide recommendations for consideration by WHO on the integration and/or coordination of schistosomiasis and STH control activities with those of appropriate programmes such as water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and veterinary public health, among others.

Operations of the WHO Technical Advisory Group on schistosomiasis control and elimination

The WHO Technical Advisory Group on schistosomiasis control and elimination (“the Group”) shall normally meet at least once each year; however, WHO may convene additional meetings. Meetings may be held in person (at WHO headquarters or another location, as determined by WHO) or virtually, via video or teleconference. It may decide to establish smaller working groups (subgroups) to work on specific issues, the deliberations of which shall take place via teleconference or videoconference. For these subgroups, no quorum requirement will apply; the outcome of their deliberations will be submitted to the Group for review at one of its meetings.

Who can express interest?

The Group will be multidisciplinary, with members from a range of technical knowledge, skills and experience relevant to implementation of neglected tropical disease programmes, monitoring and evaluation, health systems, epidemiology, mathematical modelling, evidence-based medicine, parasitology, malacology, One Health, WASH, behavioural science, people affected by STH or schistosomiasis and advocates of endemic communities. Up to 20 members may be selected.

WHO welcomes expressions of interest from the following individuals.

  • Scientists and health care professionals with expertise in the following areas:
    • implementation and management of schistosomiasis control and elimination programmes;
    • implementation and management of STH control and elimination programmes;
    • health systems, programme delivery and integration; 
    • preventive public health and epidemiological assessment of neglected infectious diseases;
    • monitoring and evaluation, surveys and operational research on intestinal helminths;
    • clinical management of morbidity due to schistosomiasis and STH;
    • social and behavioural science;
    • snail and environmental control of schistosomiasis;
    • zoonotic transmission of schistosomiasis and One Health; and
    • access, quality assessment, efficacy and pharmacovigilance of anti-helminthic medicines, especially in low and middle-income countries.

Submitting your expression of interest

To register your interest in being considered for this Group, please submit the following documents by 24:00 (Geneva time) on 20 July 2021 to neglected [dot] diseases [at] who [dot] int using the subject line “Expression of interest for the Technical Advisory Group on schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiases control and elimination":

  • a covering letter, indicating your motivation to apply and how you satisfy the selection criteria. Please note that, if selected, membership will be in a personal capacity. Therefore, do not use the letterhead or other identification of your employer;
  • your curriculum vitae; and
  • a signed and completed Declaration of Interests form for WHO Experts ( https://www.who.int/about/ethics/declarations-of-interest, for review by WHO (due to an expected high volume of interest, only selected individuals will be informed). 

Important information about the selection processes and conditions of appointment

Members of WHO advisory groups must be free of any real, potential or apparent conflicts of interest. To this end, applicants are required to complete the WHO Declaration of Interests for WHO Experts. The selection as a member of an advisory group is dependent, inter alia, on WHO determining that there is no conflict of interest or that any identified conflicts could be appropriately managed (in addition to WHO’s evaluation of an applicant’s experience, expertise and motivation, and other criteria).

All members of WHO advisory groups will serve in their individual expert capacity; they shall not represent any governments, any commercial industries or entities, any research, academic or civil society organizations, or any other bodies, entities, institutions or organizations. They are expected to fully comply with the Code of Conduct for WHO Experts. Members will be expected to sign and return a completed confidentiality undertaking before the beginning of the first meeting.

At any point during the selection process, telephone interviews may be scheduled between an applicant and the WHO Secretariat to enable WHO to ask questions relating to the applicant’s experience and expertise and/or to assess whether the applicant meets the criteria for membership in the relevant advisory group.

Members will be selected by WHO in its sole discretion, taking into account the following (non-exclusive) criteria: relevant technical expertise; experience in international and country policy work; communication skills; and ability to work constructively with people from different cultural backgrounds and orientations. The selection of members will also take into account the need for diverse perspectives from different regions, especially from low and middle-income countries, and for gender balance.

If selected by WHO, proposed members will be sent an invitation letter and a Memorandum of Agreement. Appointment as a member of a WHO advisory group will be subject to the proposed member returning the countersigned copy of these two documents to the Organization.

WHO reserves the right to accept or reject any expression of interest, to annul the open call process and to reject all expressions of interest at any time without incurring any liability to the affected applicant or applicants and without any obligation to inform the affected applicant or applicants of the grounds for WHO’s action. WHO may also decide, at any time, not to proceed with the establishment of the advisory group, to disband an existing technical advisory group or to modify the work of the advisory group.

WHO shall not in any way be obliged to reveal, or discuss with any applicant, how an expression of interest was assessed, or to provide any other information relating to the evaluation/selection process or to state the reasons for not choosing a member.

WHO may publish the names and a short biography of the selected individuals on the WHO Internet.

Members of WHO advisory groups will not be remunerated for their services in relation to the advisory group or otherwise. Travel and accommodation expenses of members to participate in meetings will be covered by WHO in accordance with its applicable policies, rules and procedures.

The appointment will be limited in time as indicated in the letter of appointment.

If you have any questions about this “call for experts”, please contact [neglected [dot] diseases [at] who [dot] int] well before the applicable deadline. 

WHO Monitoring and Evaluation