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Challenges of DHS and MIS to capture the entire pattern of malaria parasite risk and intervention effects in countries with different ecological zones: the case of Cameroon
Authors: Salomon G. Massoda Tonye, Celestin Kouambeng, Romain Wounang, and Penelope Vounatsou
Source: Malaria Journal, 17(1):156; DOI: 10.1186/s12936-018-2284-7
Topic(s): Data collection
Country: Africa
Published: APR 2018
Abstract: BACKGROUND: In 2011, the demographic and health survey (DHS) in Cameroon was combined with the multiple indicator cluster survey. Malaria parasitological data were collected, but the survey period did not overlap with the high malaria transmission season. A malaria indicator survey (MIS) was also conducted during the same year, within the malaria peak transmission season. This study compares estimates of the geographical distribution of malaria parasite risk and of the effects of interventions obtained from the DHS and MIS survey data. METHODS: Bayesian geostatistical models were applied on DHS and MIS data to obtain georeferenced estimates of the malaria parasite prevalence and to assess the effects of interventions. Climatic predictors were retrieved from satellite sources. Geostatistical variable selection was used to identify the most important climatic predictors and indicators of malaria interventions. RESULTS: The overall observed malaria parasite risk among children was 33 and 30% in the DHS and MIS data, respectively. Both datasets identified the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index and the altitude as important predictors of the geographical distribution of the disease. However, MIS selected additional climatic factors as important disease predictors. The magnitude of the estimated malaria parasite risk at national level was similar in both surveys. Nevertheless, DHS estimates lower risk in the North and Coastal areas. MIS did not find any important intervention effects, although DHS revealed that the proportion of population with an insecticide-treated nets access in their household was statistically important. An important negative relationship between malaria parasitaemia and socioeconomic factors, such as the level of mother's education, place of residence and the household welfare were captured by both surveys. CONCLUSION: Timing of the malaria survey influences estimates of the geographical distribution of disease risk, especially in settings with seasonal transmission. In countries with different ecological zones and thus different seasonal patterns, a single survey may not be able to identify all high risk areas. A continuous MIS or a combination of MIS, health information system data and data from sentinel sites may be able to capture the disease risk distribution in space across different seasons. KEYWORDS: Demographic and health survey; Insecticide-treated nets; Malaria; Malaria indicator survey; Malaria interventions; Parasitaemia; Rapid diagnostic test; Spatial correlation; Statistically important