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Malar J. 2011 Oct 14;10:301. doi: 10.1186/1475-2875-10-301.

Theoretical investigation of malaria prevalence in two Indian cities using the response surface method.

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Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CSIR), Uppal Road, Hyderabad, India.



Elucidation of the relationships between malaria incidence and climatic and non-climatic factors in a region is of utmost importance in understanding the causative factors of disease spread and design of control strategies. Very often malaria prevalence data is restricted to short time scales (months to few years). This demands application of rigorous statistical modelling techniques for analysis and prediction. The monthly malaria prevalence data for three to five years from two cities in southern India, situated in two different climatic zones, are studied to capture their dependence on climatic factors.


The statistical technique of response surface method (RSM) is applied for the first time to study any epidemiological data. A new step-by-step model reduction technique is proposed to refine the initial model obtained from RSM. This provides a simpler structure and gives better fit. This combined approach is applied to two types of epidemiological data (Slide Positivity Rates values and Total Malaria cases), for two cities in India with varying strengths of disease prevalence and environmental conditions.


The study on these data sets reveals that RSM can be used successfully to elucidate the important environmental factors influencing the transmission of the disease by analysing short epidemiological time series. The proposed approach has high predictive ability over relatively long time horizons.


This method promises to provide reliable forecast of malaria incidence across varying environmental conditions, which may help in designing useful control programmes for malaria.

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