Malaria transmission ‘hotspots’ have been identified in Papua New Guinea villages, which could lead to better targeting of control interventions.
The collaborative study published in Scientific Reports, identified hotspots in a few households within two villages. The study identified both household and individual-level risk factors for malaria transmission.
Burnet Vector-Borne Diseases and Tropical Public Health PhD Candidate, and lead author on the study, Desmond Gul, said the work showed the utility of investigating spatial risk mapping at a village level.
“We identified persistent hotspots of malaria transmission. By understanding the factors driving their presence and persistence, it may be possible for control programs and communities to better target appropriate interventions to the areas where they are needed most,” Mr Gul said.
As malaria-endemic countries scale up malaria control interventions, Mr Gul said the burden of illness and infections becomes clustered in localised communities.
“It’s therefore important to understand the spatial variation in the risk of malaria at village or even at household level, so that we can develop more targeted interventions,” he said.
The study, conducted with researchers from Burnet Institute, PNGIMR, James Cook University, Swiss TPH, WEHI and Curtin University, found hotspots could be identified within a village and these hotspots were sustained over time.
Burnet Program Director, Health Security, Professor Leanne Robinson, said that by understanding spatial variations in malaria risk at a village level, researchers can look to identify other factors which perpetuate malaria transmission.
“It may be possible to identify geo-spatial, environmental, household, and behavioural risk factors that are perpetuating malaria transmission,” Professor Robinson said.
An example of this, Professor Robinson pointed out, was the study’s finding that increased outdoor activity in densely vegetated areas and proximity to these areas were identified as risk factors for infection.
“This highlights the need to target outdoor transmission of malaria,” Professor Robinson said.
Mr Gul said information from the study can support the development of sub-National and sub-Provincial micro-stratification plans for the application of targeted interventions to accelerate towards malaria elimination in Papua New Guinea.
Image: Mirap and Megiar village Papua New Guinea.