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Bull World Health Organ. 2000; 78(12): 1401–1411.
Published online Nov 17, 2003.
PMCID: PMC2560653

Spatial targeting of interventions against malaria.


Malaria transmission is strongly associated with location. This association has two main features. First, the disease is focused around specific mosquito breeding sites and can normally be transmitted only within certain distances from them: in Africa these are typically between a few hundred metres and a kilometre and rarely exceed 2-3 kilometres. Second, there is a marked clustering of persons with malaria parasites and clinical symptoms at particular sites, usually households. In localities of low endemicity the level of malaria risk or case incidence may vary widely between households because the specific characteristics of houses and their locations affect contact between humans and vectors. Where endemicity is high, differences in human/vector contact rates between different households may have less effect on malaria case incidences. This is because superinfection and exposure-acquired immunity blur the proportional relationship between inoculation rates and case incidences. Accurate information on the distribution of malaria on the ground permits interventions to be targeted towards the foci of transmission and the locations and households of high malaria risk within them. Such targeting greatly increases the effectiveness of control measures. On the other hand, the inadvertent exclusion of these locations causes potentially effective control measures to fail. The computerized mapping and management of location data in geographical information systems should greatly assist the targeting of interventions against malaria at the focal and household levels, leading to improved effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of control.

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