Starworms (STop Anthelminthic Resistant WORMS) is a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded project that unites three WHO Collaborating Centers. Its objective is to strengthen the monitoring and surveillance of drug efficacy and anthelmintic resistance in programs aimed at eliminating and controlling soil-transmitted helminth infections in humans.
Soil-transmitted helminths (STHs) are parasitic worms that live in the human intestine and affect one fifth of the world's population. Currently, large school-based deworming programs are implemented to fight these worms, and a worldwide upscale in mass drug administration is underway. Over the last years, the coverage of drug administration has doubled from 30 to 60%, and ongoing global efforts are made to ultimately reach the milestone of 75% coverage by 2020. However, a major concern is that this high drug pressure may cause anthelmintic resistance in these worms and thus reduce the impact of the deworming programs.