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Efficacy and cost-effectiveness of environmental management for malaria control

  • Biology
  • Ecology
  • Geography
  • Medicine
  • Pharmacology


Roll Back Malaria aims at halving the current burden of the disease by the year 2010. The focus is on sub-Saharan Africa, and it is proposed to implement efficacious and costeffective control strategies. However, the evidence-base of such information is scarce, and a notable missing element is discussion of the potential of environmental management. We reviewed the literature and identified multiple malaria control programmes that incorporated environmental management as the central feature. Prominent among them are programmes launched in 1929 and implemented for 2 decades at copper mining communities in Zambia. The full package of control measures consisted of vegetation clearance, modification of river boundaries, draining swamps, oil application to open water bodies and house screening. Part of the population also benefited from quinine administration and was sleeping under mosquito nets. Monthly malaria incidence rates and vector densities were used for surveillance and adaptive tuning of the environmental management strategies to achieve a high level of performance. Within 3-5 years, malariarelated mortality, morbidity and incidence rates were reduced by 70-95%. Over the entire 20 years of implementation, the programme had averted an estimated 4,173 deaths and 161,205 malaria attacks. The estimated costs per death and malaria attack averted were US$ 858 and US$ 22.20, respectively. Over the initial 3-5 year start-up period, analogous to the short-duration of cost-effectiveness analyses of current studies, we estimated that the costs per disability adjusted life year (DALY) averted were US$ 524-591. However, the strategy has a track record of becoming cost-effective in the longer term, as maintenance costs were much lower; US$ 22-92 per DALY averted. In view of fewer adverse ecological effects, increased sustainability and better uses of local resources and knowledge, environmental management integrated with pharmacological, insecticidal and bednet interventions could substantially increase the chances of rolling back malaria.

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