FAQ's: How Is Malaria Controlled?

Some of the strategies below are appropriate for individuals, while others are very useful on an area-wide or country wide basis.
  • Screening:Screening of Dwellings to Prevent Malaria Mosquitoes from Entering and Biting the People Inside is a positive development measure. Screening of buildings also improves people's lives in other ways, i.e. by keeping flies out of homes. Where it's possible [i.e. buildings have four walls] to put screens on windows and screen doors on doors, it should be encouraged. Screening is a useful adjunct to use of a treated bednet or residual treatment of walls because it reduces the number of malaria mosquitoes entering and leaving the building.
  • Biological control: Mosquito fish reduce larval mosquito populations, and some countries have established programmes for distributing these small fish to residents. Mosquito fish are often particularly effective in small ponds, water tanks etc.
  • Source reduction: This is possible in some conditions but very difficult in other conditions. Source reduction is particularly useful for vector species, such as Anopheles stephensi, that often breed in man-made containers [i.e. water tanks] and at construction sites. There are several species of malaria vectors, and these species breed in many different locations. If the vector mosquitoes are breeding in water tanks, for example, it is possible to screen the tanks. However, if the malaria mosquitoes are breeding in a swamp, it is not always possible nore wise to attempt to drain the swamp. Thus, other strategies for breaking transmission may need to be used.
  • Drug treatment of malaria patients: People who have malaria have parasites available for malaria mosquitoes that bite them. If they are treated with appropriate drugs, the parasites disappear from their blood and are not available to the mosquitoes. This helps to reduce the transmission of malaria.
    • Unfortunately, often not everybody who has malaria parasites available for mosquitoes to "take" shows the symptoms of malaria. In some areas, including Africa, a very large percentage of people [over 50%] may have malaria parasites yet only some people [mostly small children and pregnant women] show the symptoms. Thus, drug treatment of patients is a helpful technique in controlling malaria, but it cannot be the only technique used.
  • Use of insect repellents: This is especially recommended for those who are travelling or are temporarily in malarious areas. This strategy is too expensive for many people who actually live in malarious areas.
  • Use of mosquito mats and coils: This is similar to the use of repellents. Some people may be allergic to the smoke that these devices emit, and for some, these devices are too expensive.
  • Use of bednets that are treated with an insecticide: This is a strategy that has been proven to be effective in reducing childhood morbidity and mortality in numerous studies in SubSaharan Africa. A pyrethroid insecticide [derivative of compounds found in the flower Chrysanthemum cineraraefolium] is used to treat the bednets. The mosquitoes that land on the net are prevented from biting the person sleeping under the net, and mosquitoes often avoid landing on the net altogether. The bednets need to be re-treated with insecticide at intervals of approximately 6 months.
  • Residual treatment of interior walls: In many instances, malaria mosquitoes rest on the walls before or after biting people. Residual treatment of the walls inside a house repels or kills the mosquitoes. This malaria control strategy is very effective where houses have four walls. An insecticide with residual activity needs to be used so that the treatment lasts for some months. Some insecticides are more expensive than others. Also, malaria mosquitoes in some places are resistant to some insecticides. Thus, a large variety of possible insecticides need to be available for this purpose.
  • Multiple Strategies need to be Available to control Malaria.

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