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Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) largely impact marginalised communities living in tropical and subtropical regions. Mass drug administration is the leading intervention method for five NTDs; however, it is known that there is lack of access to treatment for some populations and demographic groups. It is also likely that those individuals without access to treatment are excluded from surveillance. It is important to consider the impacts of this on the overall success, and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of intervention programmes. We use a detailed individual-based model of the infection dynamics of lymphatic filariasis to investigate the impact of excluded, untreated, and therefore unobserved groups on the true versus observed infection dynamics and subsequent intervention success. We simulate surveillance in four groups-the whole population eligible to receive treatment, the whole eligible population with access to treatment, the TAS focus of six- and seven-year-olds, and finally in >20-year-olds. We show that the surveillance group under observation has a significant impact on perceived dynamics. Exclusion to treatment and surveillance negatively impacts the probability of reaching public health goals, though in populations that do reach these goals there are no signals to indicate excluded groups. Increasingly restricted surveillance groups over-estimate the efficacy of MDA. The presence of non-treated groups cannot be inferred when surveillance is only occurring in the group receiving treatment.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS neglected tropical diseases

Publication Date





School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland.