Risk factors associated with failing pre-transmission assessment surveys (pre-TAS) in lymphatic filariasis elimination programs: Results of a multi-country analysis
Achieving elimination of lymphatic filariasis (LF) as a public health problem requires a minimum of five effective rounds of mass drug administration (MDA) and demonstrating low prevalence in subsequent assessments. The first assessments recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) are sentinel and spot-check sites—referred to as pre-transmission assessment surveys (pre-TAS)—in each implementation unit after MDA. If pre-TAS shows that prevalence in each site has been lowered to less than 1% microfilaremia or less than 2% antigenemia, the implementation unit conducts a TAS to determine whether MDA can be stopped. Failure to pass pre-TAS means that further rounds of MDA are required. This study aims to understand factors influencing pre-TAS results using existing programmatic data from 554 implementation units, of which 74 (13%) failed, in 13 countries. Secondary data analysis was completed using existing data from Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Haiti, Indonesia, Mali, Nepal, Niger, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Uganda. Additional covariate data were obtained from spatial raster data sets. Bivariate analysis and multilinear regression were performed to establish potential relationships between variables and the pre-TAS result. Higher baseline prevalence and lower elevation were significant in the regression model. Variables statistically significantly associated with failure (p-value ≤0.05) in the bivariate analyses included baseline prevalence at or above 5% or 10%, use of Filariasis Test Strips (FTS), primary vector of Culex, treatment with diethylcarbamazine-albendazole, higher elevation, higher population density, higher enhanced vegetation index (EVI), higher annual rainfall, and 6 or more rounds of MDA. This paper reports for the first time factors associated with pre-TAS results from a multi-country analysis. This information can help countries more effectively forecast program activities, such as the potential need for more rounds of MDA, and prioritize resources to ensure adequate coverage of all persons in areas at highest risk of failing pre-TAS.