• The effect of community-driven larval source management and house improvement on malaria transmission when added to the standard malaria control strategies in Malawi: a cluster-randomized controlled trial

      McCann, Robert S; Kabaghe, Alinune N; Moraga, Paula; Gowelo, Steven; Mburu, Monicah M; Tizifa, Tinashe; Chipeta, Michael G; Nkhono, William; Di Pasquale, Aurelio; Maire, Nicolas; et al. (Springer Nature, 2021-05-22)
      Background: Current standard interventions are not universally sufficient for malaria elimination. The effects of community-based house improvement (HI) and larval source management (LSM) as supplementary interventions to the Malawi National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) interventions were assessed in the context of an intensive community engagement programme. Methods: The study was a two-by-two factorial, cluster-randomized controlled trial in Malawi. Village clusters were randomly assigned to four arms: a control arm; HI; LSM; and HI + LSM. Malawi NMCP interventions and community engagement were used in all arms. Household-level, cross-sectional surveys were conducted on a rolling, 2-monthly basis to measure parasitological and entomological outcomes over 3 years, beginning with one baseline year. The primary outcome was the entomological inoculation rate (EIR). Secondary outcomes included mosquito density, Plasmodium falciparum prevalence, and haemoglobin levels. All outcomes were assessed based on intention to treat, and comparisons between trial arms were conducted at both cluster and household level. Results: Eighteen clusters derived from 53 villages with 4558 households and 20,013 people were randomly assigned to the four trial arms. The mean nightly EIR fell from 0.010 infectious bites per person (95% CI 0.006-0.015) in the baseline year to 0.001 (0.000, 0.003) in the last year of the trial. Over the full trial period, the EIR did not differ between the four trial arms (p = 0.33). Similar results were observed for the other outcomes: mosquito density and P. falciparum prevalence decreased over 3 years of sampling, while haemoglobin levels increased; and there were minimal differences between the trial arms during the trial period. Conclusions: In the context of high insecticide-treated bed net use, neither community-based HI, LSM, nor HI + LSM contributed to further reductions in malaria transmission or prevalence beyond the reductions observed over two years across all four trial arms. This was the first trial, as far as the authors are aware, to test the potential complementary impact of LSM and/or HI beyond levels achieved by standard interventions. The unexpectedly low EIR values following intervention implementation indicated a promising reduction in malaria transmission for the area, but also limited the usefulness of this outcome for measuring differences in malaria transmission among the trial arms. Trial registration PACTR, PACTR201604001501493, Registered 3 March 2016, https://pactr.samrc.ac.za/ .
    • Identifying transmission patterns through parasite prevalence and entomological inoculation rate

      Amoah, Benjamin; McCann, Robert S; Kabaghe, Alinune N; Mburu, Monicah; Chipeta, Michael G; Moraga, Paula; Gowelo, Steven; Tizifa, Tinashe; van den Berg, Henk; Mzilahowa, Themba; et al. (eLife Sciences Publications, 2021-10-21)
      Background: Monitoring malaria transmission is a critical component of efforts to achieve targets for elimination and eradication. Two commonly monitored metrics of transmission intensity are parasite prevalence (PR) and the entomological inoculation rate (EIR). Comparing the spatial and temporal variations in the PR and EIR of a given geographical region and modelling the relationship between the two metrics may provide a fuller picture of the malaria epidemiology of the region to inform control activities. Methods: Using geostatistical methods, we compare the spatial and temporal patterns of Plasmodium falciparum EIR and PR using data collected over 38 months in a rural area of Malawi. We then quantify the relationship between EIR and PR by using empirical and mechanistic statistical models. Results: Hotspots identified through the EIR and PR partly overlapped during high transmission seasons but not during low transmission seasons. The estimated relationship showed a 1-month delayed effect of EIR on PR such that at lower levels of EIR, increases in EIR are associated with rapid rise in PR, whereas at higher levels of EIR, changes in EIR do not translate into notable changes in PR. Conclusions: Our study emphasises the need for integrated malaria control strategies that combine vector and human host managements monitored by both entomological and parasitaemia indices.