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Village planning for intrinsic prevention of malaria transmission

March 25, 2017 - 19:51 -- William Jobin

The Eltahir group at MIT has recently published a pioneering study which makes it possible to plan resettlement and new villages in ways which will permanently minimize malaria transmission, because of ecological design. This is especially valuable for engineers planning resettlement communities related to large reservoirs and irrigation systems.

Such safe designs reduce the need for the ephemeral methods based on drugs, bednets and insecticides.

The report is:

Environmental determinants of malaria transmission in African villages
By Noriko Endo and Elfatih A. B. Eltahir
Malaria Journal, 2016,15:578
DOI: 10.1186/s12936-016-1633-7

The following summary is taken from the cited article, in part :

Using a field-tested mechanistic malaria model, HYDREMATS, simulations were conducted with a range of hydroclimatological and environmental conditions: temperature (t), length of wet season (Twet), storm inter-arrival time (Tint), persistence of vector breeding pools (Ton), and distribution of houses from breeding pools and from each other (Xdist and Ydist, respectively).

Based on the theoretical study, a malaria time scale, To, and a predictive theory of malaria transmission were introduced. The performance of the predictive theory compared favorably against observed malaria transmission data in West Africa.

The predictive theory can provide guidelines on how to plan the layout of human communities in order to prevent endemic malaria. Malaria-resistant villages can be designed by locating houses further than critical distances away from breeding pools or by removing pools within a critical distance from houses thru drainage systems; the critical distance is described in the context of local climatology and hydrology.

Such villages will have inherent protection against malaria transmission and reduce the need for repetitive and ephemeral control methods currently in use by WHO and the US PMI.