Rational decision making on malaria control depends on an understanding of the epidemiological risks and control measures. National Malaria Control Programmes across Africa have access to a range of state-of-the-art malaria risk mapping products that might serve their decision-making needs. The use of cartography in planning malaria control has never been methodically reviewed.
Materials and Methods
An audit of the risk maps used by NMCPs in 47 malaria endemic countries in Africa was undertaken by examining the most recent national malaria strategies, monitoring and evaluation plans, malaria programme reviews and applications submitted to the Global Fund. The types of maps presented and how they have been used to define priorities for investment and control was investigated.
91% of endemic countries in Africa have defined malaria risk at sub-national levels using at least one risk map. The range of risk maps varies from maps based on suitability of climate for transmission; predicted malaria seasons and temperature/altitude limitations, to representations of clinical data and modelled parasite prevalence. The choice of maps is influenced by the source of the information. Maps developed using national data through in-country research partnerships have greater utility than more readily accessible web-based options developed without inputs from national control programmes. Although almost all countries have stratification maps, only a few use them to guide decisions on the selection of interventions allocation of resources for malaria control.
The way information on the epidemiology of malaria is presented and used needs to be addressed to ensure evidence-based added value in planning control. The science on modelled impact of interventions must be integrated into new mapping products to allow a translation of risk into rational decision making for malaria control. As overseas and domestic funding diminishes, strategic planning will be necessary to guide appropriate financing for malaria control.