Malaria elimination requires reducing both the potential of mosquitoes to transmit parasites to humans and humans to transmit parasites to mosquitoes. To achieve this goal in Southern province, Zambia a mass test and treat (MTAT) campaign was conducted from 2011–2013 to complement high coverage of long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLIN). To identify factors likely to increase campaign effectiveness, a modelling approach was applied to investigate the simulated effect of alternative operational strategies for parasite clearance in southern province.
OpenMalaria, a discrete-time, individual-based stochastic model of malaria, was parameterized for the study area to simulate anti-malarial drug administration for interruption of transmission. Simulations were run for scenarios with a range of artemisinin-combination therapies, proportion of the population reached by the campaign, targeted age groups, time between campaign rounds, Plasmodium falciparum test protocols, and the addition of drugs aimed at preventing onward transmission. A sensitivity analysis was conducted to assess uncertainty of simulation results. Scenarios were evaluated based on the reduction in all-age parasite prevalence during the peak transmission month one year following the campaign, compared to the currently-implemented strategy of MTAT 19 % population coverage at pilot and 40 % coverage during the first year of implementation in the presence of 56 % LLIN use and 18 % indoor residual spray coverage.
Simulation results suggest the most important determinant of success in reducing prevalence is the population coverage achieved in the campaign, which would require more than 1 year of campaign implementation for elimination. The inclusion of single low-dose primaquine, which acts as a gametocytocide, or ivermectin, which acts as an endectocide, to the drug regimen did not further reduce parasite prevalence one year following the campaign compared to the currently-implemented strategy. Simulation results indicate a high proportion of low-density infections were missed by rapid diagnostic tests that would be treated and cleared with mass drug administration (MDA).
The optimal implementation strategy for MTAT or MDA will vary by background level of prevalence, by rate of infections imported to the area, and by ability to operationally achieve high population coverage. Overall success with new parasite clearance strategies depends on continued coverage of vector control interventions to ensure sustained gains in reduction of disease burden.