[NAIROBI] Implementing the tools currently available to fight malaria reduces existing cases of the disease by 85 percent, but is not enough to disrupt transmission, according to a study.
With the World Malaria Report 2019, which estimates that the World Health Organization (WHO )’s African region had 93 percent of the 228 million malaria cases worldwide in 2018, eradicating the disease in Africa is a priority for WHO and its partners, including governments.
WHO recommends the use of instruments such as insecticide-treated mosquito nets, spraying insecticide residues indoors, and administering anti-malarial medicines.
“The Magude project has shown that an intensive implementation of the tools currently available, recommended by the WHO, can significantly reduce malaria transmission.”
Beatriz Galatas, Barcelona Institute for Global Health
However, the study, conducted in southern Mozambique, found that while efforts such as building an improved surveillance system and providing two rounds of mass drug delivery measures reduced the burden of malaria, it did not interrupt the transmission of the parasite that causes malaria: plasmodium falciparum.
“The Magude [District] The project was designed to assess the possibility of eradicating malaria using currently available prevention and treatment tools in an endemic malaria district in southern Mozambique, ”says Beatriz Galatas, lead author of the study, which will be published this month (August 14) in PLOS Medicine was published.
The study project took place from 2015 to 2018 in the Magude district, a rural area where 48,448 people in 10,965 households live.
It was divided into two phases. The first phase, from August 2015 to August 2017, aimed to bring the number of malaria cases down to zero, while the second phase, from September 2017 to June 2018, was intended to maintain gains for a period of one year after the first phase.
The results show that implementing an intervention package in sub-Saharan areas cannot disrupt the transmission of malaria.
“The Magude project has shown that an intensive implementation of the currently available instruments recommended by the WHO can significantly reduce the disease burden caused by malaria. This is a necessary step on the road to eradication, ”adds Galatas, an epidemiologist at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health.
According to the study, the percentage of people with malaria decreased by about 85 percent, while the percentage of new malaria cases decreased by about 66 percent.
She told SciDev.Net that the Magude project should be seen as an essential step on the road to eradicating malaria.
“At a time when the global fight against malaria is at an unacceptably high level, with over 200 million cases and more than 400,000 deaths, the vast majority of which are among African children and women, our global priority must be in the area of focus public health on reducing disease and death, particularly among the most vulnerable populations, ”adds Galatas. “This should be seen as an essential step towards elimination.”
Eliningaya Kweka, associate research professor of medical entomology at the Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences in Tanzania, says that while the interventions were effective in reducing malaria cases, there were very brief, limited data on pre-intervention that made it accurate comparing the data before and after the procedures.
“Intervention coverage was low, which left some parasite pools untreated and became a source of infection in the community,” he says.
Kweka adds that the study results in sub-Saharan Africa have more promising effects on malaria control and eradication, but calls for the need to consider other malaria control measures.
“Improving house quality in rural Africa should be a campaign in all intervention programs,” explains Kweka.
This piece was produced by SciDev.Net’s English desk for sub-Saharan Africa.
Beatriz Galatas and others A multi-phase program to eradicate malaria in South Mozambique (the Magude project): A before and after study (PLOS MEDICINE, August 14, 2020)