Background Transmission of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa has become increasingly stratified following decades of malaria control interventions. The extent to which environmental and land cover risk factors for malaria may differ across distinct strata of transmission intensity is not well known and could provide actionable targets to maximize the success of malaria control efforts. Methods This study used cross-sectional malaria survey data from a nationally representative cohort of school-aged children in Tanzania, and satellite-derived measures for environmental features and land cover. Hierarchical logistic regression models were applied to evaluate associations between land cover and malaria prevalence within three distinct strata of transmission intensity: low and unstable, moderate and seasonal, and high and perennial. Results In areas with low malaria transmission, each 10-percentage point increase in cropland cover was associated with an increase in malaria prevalence odds of 2.44 (95% UI: 1.27, 5.11). However, at moderate and higher levels of transmission intensity, no association between cropland cover and malaria prevalence was detected. Small associations were observed between greater grassland cover and greater malaria prevalence in high intensity settings (prevalence odds ratio (POR): 1.10, 95% UI: 1.00, 1.21), and between greater forest cover and reduced malaria prevalence in low transmission areas (POR: 0.74, 95% UI: 0.51, 1.03), however the uncertainty intervals of both estimates included the null. Conclusions The intensity of malaria transmission appears to modify relationships between land cover and malaria prevalence among school-aged children in Tanzania. In particular, greater cropland cover was positively associated with increased malaria prevalence in areas with low transmission intensity and presents an actionable target for environmental vector control interventions to complement current malaria control activities. As areas are nearing malaria elimination, it is important to re-evaluate environmental risk factors and employ appropriate interventions to effectively address low-level malaria transmission.
Evaluating malaria prevalence and land cover across varying transmission intensity in Tanzania using a cross-sectional survey of school-aged children
Mitchell, C. L., Ngasala, B., Janko, M. M., Chacky, F., Edwards, J. K., Pence, B. W., Mohamed, A., Mhamilawa, L. E., Makene, T., Kyaw, T., Molteni, F., Mkali, H., Nyinondi, S., Kabula, B., Serbantez, N., Eckert, E. L., Kitojo, C., Reaves, E., Emch, M., & Juliano, J. J. (2022). Evaluating malaria prevalence and land cover across varying transmission intensity in Tanzania using a cross-sectional survey of school-aged children. Malaria Journal, 21(1), . https://doi.org/10.1186/s12936-022-04107-8