We are happy to announce that Collins Okoyo, the STOP2030’s lead statistician from Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), successfully defended his doctoral dissertation on the 18th of April and will graduate as a PhD. His research explores, through mathematical modelling, the merits of sanitation and pharmacological strategies against soil-transmitted helminths (STH), a critical aspect of WHO´s led strategy for the control of this disease as a public health problem and directly linked to our Consortium´s goals. Okoyo’s investigations also shed light on how effective a combination of both approaches can be towards these aims.

In 2012, WHO published a Roadmap for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) that set targets for the control of STH to be met by the end of the decade. The document asked to increase the efforts in school-based deworming campaigns to reduce the disease’s morbidity in pre-school and school-aged children. In 2018, with said goals “within reach”, a group of experts met to come up with new, more ambitious targets for the following ten-year period. Published in 2020, the Roadmap for 2021-2030 aims to achieve and maintain the elimination of STH-related morbidity in children, reduce the number of tablets needed worldwide, establish a control programme for strongyloidiasis and ensure universal access to at least basic sanitation in all STH-endemic areas, among others.

Building upon Kenya’s deworming campaigns’ data, Okoyo’s research provides a robust mathematical foundation to inform which would be the better policies to fulfill WHO’s 2021-2030 Roadmap goals. In a Policy Brief developed from his results, he states that “[the] reduction of STH burden and elimination period heavily depended on four parameter groups; drug efficacy, treatment rounds, proportion of individuals treated and WASH –water, sanitation, hygiene– coverage”.

The STOP2030 Consortium plans to expand on the achievements of this doctoral project through our Work Package 3, Data management and Modelling, coordinated by the team at KEMRI. With Collins´ expertise, we will use the data generated from the clinical, acceptability and policy work packages to build models to identify the potential impact of the innovations in STH therapeutics evaluated in our EDCTP/Swiss Government funded project.

Okoyo’s doctoral research was supervised by Dr. Idah Orowe (U. of Nairobi), Dr. Nelson Onyango (IQVIA., Kenya), Prof. Graham Medley (LSHTM) and Charles Mwandawiro (KEMRI) and has already informed a Policy Brief published by KEMRI and contributed three peer-reviewed publications.

It is with great pride that we congratulate Collins and KEMRI´s Principal Investigator, Dr Charles Mwandawiro, in this achievement.