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Model-Based Geostatistical Methods Enable Efficient Design and Analysis of Prevalence Surveys for Soil-Transmitted Helminth Infection and Other Neglected Tropical Diseases

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>14/06/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Clinical Infectious Diseases
Issue numberSupplement_3
Volume72
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)S172-S179
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Maps of the geographical variation in prevalence play an important role in large-scale programs for the control of neglected tropical diseases. Precontrol mapping is needed to establish the appropriate control intervention in each area of the country in question. Mapping is also needed postintervention to measure the success of control efforts. In the absence of comprehensive disease registries, mapping efforts can be informed by 2 kinds of data: empirical estimates of local prevalence obtained by testing individuals from a sample of communities within the geographical region of interest, and digital images of environmental factors that are predictive of local prevalence. In this article, we focus on the design and analysis of impact surveys, that is, prevalence surveys that are conducted postintervention with the aim of informing decisions on what further intervention, if any, is needed to achieve elimination of the disease as a public health problem. We show that geospatial statistical methods enable prevalence surveys to be designed and analyzed as efficiently as possible so as to make best use of hard-won field data. We use 3 case studies based on data from soil-transmitted helminth impact surveys in Kenya, Sierra Leone, and Zimbabwe to compare the predictive performance of model-based geostatistics with methods described in current World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. In all 3 cases, we find that model-based geostatistics substantially outperforms the current WHO guidelines, delivering improved precision for reduced field-sampling effort. We argue from experience that similar improvements will hold for prevalence mapping of other neglected tropical diseases.