Prevention

Vector control is the primary public health intervention for reducing malaria transmission at the community level. It is the only intervention that can reduce malaria transmission from very high levels to close to zero. In high transmission areas, it can reduce child mortality rates and the prevalence of severe anaemia. For individuals personal protection against mosquito bites represents the first line of defence for malaria prevention.

Two forms of vector control are effective in a wide range of circumstances. These are:

  • insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs): Long lasting insecticide impregnated nets (LLINs) are the preferred form of insecticide treated nets for public health distribution programmes. WHO recommends universal vector control coverage, and in most places, the most cost effective way to achieve this is through provision of LLINs, so that everyone in high transmission areas sleeps under a LLIN every night;
  • indoor spraying with residual insecticides: Indoor residual spraying (IRS) with insecticides is the most powerful way to rapidly reduce malaria transmission. Its full potential is realized when at least 80% of houses in targeted areas are sprayed. Indoor spraying is effective for 3–6 months, depending on the insecticide used and the type of surface on which it is sprayed. DDT can be effective for 9–12 months in some cases. Longer-lasting forms of IRS insecticides are under development.

Drugs can also be used to prevent malaria. For travellers, malaria can be prevented through chemoprophylaxis, which suppresses the blood stage of malaria infections, thereby preventing malaria disease.