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Trop Med Int Health. 2004 Aug;9(8):846-56.

Historical review of malarial control in southern African with emphasis on the use of indoor residual house-spraying.

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  • 1Malaria Research Programme, Medical Research Council, Durban, South Africa.


Indoor residual house-spraying (IRS) mainly with dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) was the principal method by which malaria was eradicated or greatly reduced in many countries in the world between the 1940s and 1960s. In sub-Saharan Africa early malarial eradication pilot projects also showed that malaria is highly responsive to vector control by IRS but transmission could not be interrupted in the endemic tropical and lowland areas. As a result IRS was not taken to scale in most endemic areas of the continent with the exception of southern Africa and some island countries such as Reunion, Mayotte, Zanzibar, Cape Verde and Sao Tome. In southern Africa large-scale malarial control operations based on IRS with DDT and benzene hexachloride (BHC) were initiated in a number of countries to varying degrees. The objective of this review was to investigate the malarial situation before and after the introduction of indoor residual insecticide spraying in South Africa, Swaziland, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique using historical malarial data and related information collected from National Malaria Control Programmes, national archives and libraries, as well as academic institutions in the respective countries. Immediately after the inception of IRS with insecticides, dramatic reductions in malaria and its vectors were recorded. Countries that developed National Malaria Control Programmes during this phase and had built up human and organizational resources made significant advances towards malarial control. Malaria was reduced from hyper- to meso-endemicity and from meso- to hypo-endemicity and in certain instances to complete eradication. Data are presented on the effectiveness of IRS as a malarial control tool in six southern African countries. Recent trends in and challenges to malarial control in the region are also discussed.

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