Background: In malaria-endemic areas, residents of modern houses have less malaria than those living in traditional houses. We aimed to assess whether children in The Gambia received an incremental benefit from improved housing, where current best practice of insecticide-treated nets, indoor residual spraying, seasonal malaria chemoprevention in children younger than 5 years, and prompt treatment against clinical malaria was in place.
Methods: In this randomised controlled study, 800 households with traditional thatched-roofed houses were randomly selected from 91 villages in the Upper River Region of The Gambia. Within each village, equal numbers of houses were randomly allocated to the control and intervention groups using a sampling frame. Houses in the intervention group were modified with metal roofs and screened doors and windows, whereas houses in the control group received no modifications. In each group, clinical malaria in children aged 6 months to 13 years was monitored by active case detection over 2 years (2016-17). We did monthly collections from indoor light traps to estimate vector densities. Primary endpoints were the incidence of clinical malaria in study children with more than 50% of observations each year and household vector density. The trial is registered at ISRCTN02622179.
Findings: In June, 2016, 785 houses had one child each recruited into the study (398 in unmodified houses and 402 in modified houses). 26 children in unmodified houses and 28 children in modified houses did not have at least 50% of visits in a year and so were excluded from analysis. 38 children in unmodified houses were recruited after study commencement, as were 21 children in modified houses, meaning 410 children in unmodified houses and 395 in modified houses were included in the parasitological analyses. At the end of the study, 659 (94%) of 702 children were reported to have slept under an insecticide-treated net; 662 (88%) of 755 children lived in houses that received indoor residual spraying; and 151 (90%) of 168 children younger than 5 years had seasonal malaria chemoprevention. Incidence of clinical malaria was 0·12 episodes per child-year in children in the unmodified houses and 0·20 episodes per child-year in the modified houses (unadjusted incidence rate ratio [RR] 1·68 [95% CI 1·11-2·55], p=0·014). Household vector density was 3·30 Anopheles gambiae per house per night in the unmodified houses compared with 3·60 in modified houses (unadjusted RR 1·28 [0·87-1·89], p=0·21).
Interpretation: Improved housing did not provide protection against clinical malaria in this area of low seasonal transmission with high coverage of insecticide-treated nets, indoor residual spraying, and seasonal malaria chemoprevention.
Pinder M, Bradley J, Jawara M, Affara M, Conteh L, Correa S, Jeffries D, Jones C, Kandeh B, Knudsen J, Olatunji Y, Sicuri E, D’Alessandro U, Lindsay SW.