Malaria control: the need for targeting mosquito breeding habitats

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JUNE, 2015
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In the early 1990s, malaria was controlled using environmental management for vector control in cities in sub-Sahara Africa. However this approach lacked effectiveness due to unsustainability as compared with the residual insecticides that appeared in the 1950s. Today, malaria control in Africa is entirely focused on the use of anti-malarials and insecticide-treated bed nets and not on biophysical environmental modifications or on strengthened social systems to perform effective environmental manipulation. Even though drugs and insecticides are extremely effective weapons, the development of resistance by the parasite and the vector mosquitoes, respectively, are a growing concern for the long-term costs and in addition, the environmental impacts of insecticides have been a challenge. The present study assessed the impact of controlling malaria in two communities by means of targeting the habitat of the vector mosquito. The overall goal was to assess the impact of mosquito habitat reduction on malaria incidence and prevalence in two selected endemic communities in the Agortime-Ziope district of the Volta Region. Kakadedzi and Takuve are both rural communities in the town of Ziope. They experience a tropical climate with rain fall throughout much of the year. Data on malaria cases recorded was collected from the Ziope Health Centre, the only health facility serving the two rural communities in order to review the diagnosed malaria cases in the selected communities. The selected communities were surveyed and the mosquito breeding grounds identified. Interventions involving manipulation and elimination of the breeding habitats were introduced in the two identified communities. Data collected before and after the interventions were compared. The diagnosed malaria cases in the health centre were again reviewed monthly for seven months. The inhabitants and school pupils were interviewed during the study period in order to determine their level of knowledge on malaria and its control. Results from both Kakadedzi and Takuve communities revealed the breeding habitats of mosquitoes to be open water tanks, depressions on farm lands, drinking pots and dams. The reviewed malaria cases in the health centre indicated that malaria cases were more prevalent during the rainy season than during the dry season. The arithmetic means of the number of mosquitoes collected from each room before the interventions were carried out, were significantly more ( p value of 0.0002) than those collected after the interventions. The number of the malaria cases recorded in the Health centre after post- interventions also reduced significantly (p value of 0.0019). The interviews conducted in the communities revealed that 20% of the total population of the elders lacked basic knowledge on malaria and how it could be controlled. The pupils from the community school could not transfer the knowledge they acquired on malaria and its control during school lessons to control malaria in their homes. The findings from this study suggest that managing the environment by practising good sanitation can reduce the breeding habitats of mosquitoes. This in turn can reduce the human-vector contact leading to the control of the disease, malaria.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Theoretical and Applied Biology, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfillment of the requirements Master of Science degree in Environmental Science.