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Temporal Variations in Malaria Risk in Africa

Mabaso, M. L. H. (2007) Temporal Variations in Malaria Risk in Africa. Doctoral thesis, University of Basel.

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In sub-Saharan Africa, malaria is a major cause of morbidity and mortality especially among children less than five years of age and pregnant women. Malaria situations are very diverse because of many factors involved in malaria transmission and the great variety of their local combinations. These include climatic, ecologic, social, economic and cultural factors. A number of epidemiological approaches have been used to try and reduce malaria situations to a manageable number of types and classes for efficient planning and targeting of appropriate malaria control strategies. Modelling and mapping of malaria have long been recognized as important means to developing empirical knowledge of this kind. Recently, the availability of new data sets, innovative analytical tools and statistical methods has resulted in the development of more comprehensive malaria maps for east, west and central Africa. However, most risk maps that have been produced so far do not take into account seasonal variation in malaria transmission. Seasonality affects the dynamic relationship between vector mosquito densities, inoculation rate, parasite prevalence and disease outcome. Quantitative description and mapping of malaria seasonality is therefore important for modelling malaria transmission dynamics and for timely spatial targeting of interventions. This thesis is part of an on going effort within the MARA/ARMA (Mapping Malaria Risk in Africa/Atlas du risqué de la Malaria en Afrique) collaboration towards the development of improved malaria risk maps for Africa. The main objective is the development of an empirical model of malaria seasonality by fitting classical and modern statistical models to clinical and / or entomological indices where available. This work also intended to identify important determinants of between-year and between-area variation that may be useful for developing climate based seasonal forecasting models for malaria epidemics. Chapter 1 gives an overview of the transmission and epidemiology of malaria in Africa and set the rational for this work. The initial focus of the analysis was on southern Africa, until recently this was the only region with reasonably comprehensive clinical malaria case data in the continent and therefore offered an ideal starting point. This region has a long history of successful malaria vector control by indoor residual spraying (IRS) with insecticides and this may have an impact on the level of malaria endemicity and consequently what we are modelling. Chapter 2 therefore reviews the historical impact of IRS in southern Africa. Chapters 3 evaluate the impact of the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon on annual malaria incidence in Southern Africa. This is the main driver of inter-annual and seasonal variability in climate in most regions in Africa, and is important because ENSO events alter seasonality in climate in a way that influences malaria seasonality. Chapter 4 uses Zimbabwe to examine the spatio-temporal role of climate on year to year variation of malaria incidence. This country has a heterogeneity of climatic suitability for malaria transmission and reflects varying epidemiological profiles that occur in Southern Africa. Chapter 5 uses Zimbabwe as an example towards the development of an empirical model of malaria seasonality based on clinical malaria case data. Chapter 6 assesses the potential for use of the entomological inoculation rate (EIR) to describe malaria seasonality in Africa. Chapter 7 improves on work done in chapter 6 by modelling and mapping seasonal transmission of malaria transmission using an approximation based on discrete Fourier transformations which remove noise in the original time series and allows for the description important / main seasonal components in EIR in relation to those of meteorological covariates. The work described in these chapters culminated in five scientific publications and one working paper Chapter 2 showed that Southern African countries that sustained the application of IRS reduced the level of transmission from hyper- to meso-endemicity and from meso- to hypo-endemicity. This means that in instances where pre-control malariometric indices are not available one can not assume to be modelling baseline endemicity. Preferably, where the data are available the ideal situation will be to develop pre- and post-control models to evaluate changes in the malaria risk pattern over time. Chapter 3 found that contrary to east Africa where ENSO events and in particular El Nino has been linked to changes in climatic condition and increase in epidemic risk, in Southern Africa, ENSO has the opposite effect during El Nino years, with heightened incidence during La Nina years. However, the impact of ENSO also varies over time within countries, depending on existing malaria control efforts and response capacity. From this analysis it is clear that in order to lay an empirical basis for epidemic forecasting models there is a need for spatial-temporal models that at the same time consider both ENSO driven climate anomalies and non ENSO factors influencing epidemic risk potential. Chapter 4 confirmed that there is considerable inter-annual variation in the timing and intensity of malaria incidence in Zimbabwe. The modelling approach adjusted for unmeasured space-time varying risk factors and showed that while year to year variation in malaria incidence is driven mainly by climate the resultant spatial risk pattern may to large extent be influenced by other risk factors except during high and low risk years following the occurrence of extremely wet and dry conditions, respectively. It is likely therefore that only years characterized by extreme climatic conditions may be important for delineating areas prone to climate driven epidemics, and for developing climate based seasonal forecasting models for malaria epidemics. Chapter 5 employed the Bayesian spatial statistical method to quantify the relative amount of transmission in each month. This method smoothed for unobserved or unmeasured residual variation in malaria case rates while adjusting for environmental covariates enabling us to interpret the spatial pattern of malaria in seasonality. This work also demonstrated the feasibility of using Markham’s seasonality index (previously used for rainfall) to describe malaria seasonality. In this analysis the index was used to summarize the spatial pattern of the modelled seasonal trend by displaying the concentration of malaria case load during the peak season across, which is important for malaria control. Chapter 6 adopted Markham’s seasonality index to characterize seasonality in EIR in relation to environment covariates. This work successfully identified rainfall seasonality and minimum temperature as predictors of malaria seasonality across a number of sites in Africa. However, model predictions were poor in areas characterized by two rainfall peaks and irrigation activities. The seasonality concentration index performed better in areas with a unimodal seasonal pattern, and this might have had an adverse effect in the analysis in areas with a bimodal seasonal pattern. This highlighted the need for an improved quantification of malaria seasonality to model the complex and varied seasonal dynamics across the continent. Chapter 7 used an approximation of the discrete Fourier transform to the model relationship between seasonality in EIR and meteorological covariates. This was used to predict the seasonal average as well as the magnitude and timing of the main seasonal cycles. This allowed for the estimation of the overall degree and timing malaria seasonality and the duration of transmission across sub-Saharan Africa. Model predictions can be used to estimate the average seasonal pattern of malaria transmission across the continent. This analysis presents the first step towards the development of improved models of malaria seasonality, and as more data become available the models can be further refined. In conclusion the Bayesian analytical framework used in this study enhanced our ability to evaluate the relationship between malaria and climatic / environmental factors, and improved considerably the identification of important associations and covariates. Climatic and associated environmental determinants of seasonal and between yearvariation in malaria, including the impact of ENSO identified in this work, provide valuable information for the development of climate based seasonal forecasting models for malaria. Furthermore, an approximation of the discrete Fourier transformation of the data enabled us for the first time to develop empirical models and maps of the seasonality of transmission of malaria at a continental level. These are positive developments for the malaria modelling, mapping and control community in general.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Keywords: Malaria, Morbidity and Mortality, Malaria Control, Vector, Mosquito, Indoor Residual Spraying, Africa
Subjects: Malaria > Vector control
Divisions: Other
Depositing User: Mr Joseph Madata
Date Deposited: 19 Feb 2013 08:57
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2013 08:57

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