Community perceptions on outdoor malaria transmission in Kilombero Valley, Southern Tanzania

Irene R. Moshi, Halfan Ngowo, Angel Dillip, Daniel Msellemu, Edith P. Madumla, Fredros O. Okumu, Maureen Coetzee, Ladslaus L. Mnyone, Lenore Manderson

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27 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The extensive use of indoor residual spraying (IRS) and insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) in Africa has contributed to a significant reduction in malaria transmission. Even so, residual malaria transmission persists in many regions, partly driven by mosquitoes that bite people outdoors. In areas where Anopheles gambiae s.s. is a dominant vector, most interventions target the reduction of indoor transmission. The increased use of ITNs/LLINs and IRS has led to the decline of this species. As a result, less dominant vectors such as Anopheles funestus and Anopheles arabiensis, both also originally indoor vectors but are increasingly biting outdoors, contribute more to residual malaria transmission. The study reports the investigated community perceptions on malaria and their implications of this for ongoing outdoor malaria transmission and malaria control efforts. Methods: This was a qualitative study conducted in two rural villages and two peri-urban areas located in Kilombero Valley in south-eastern Tanzania. 40 semi-structured in-depth interviews and 8 focus group discussions were conducted with men and women who had children under the age of five. The Interviews and discussions focused on (1) community knowledge of malaria transmission, and (2) the role of such knowledge on outdoor malaria transmission as a contributing factor to residual malaria transmission. Results: The use of bed nets for malaria prevention has been stressed in a number of campaigns and malaria prevention programmes. Most people interviewed believe that there is outdoor malaria transmission since they use interventions while indoors, but they are unaware of changing mosquito host-seeking behaviour. Participants pointed out that they were frequently bitten by mosquitoes during the evening when outdoors, compared to when they were indoors. Most participants stay outdoors in the early evening to undertake domestic tasks that cannot be conducted indoors. House structure, poor ventilation and warm weather conditions were reported to be the main reasons for staying outdoors during the evening. Participants reported wearing long sleeved clothes, fanning and slapping themselves, using repellents, and burning cow dung and neem tree leaves to chase away mosquitoes. Conclusions: Community understanding of multiple prevention strategies is crucial given changes in mosquito host seeking behaviour and the increased incidence of outdoor biting. The current low use of outdoor control measures is attributed largely to limited awareness of outdoor transmission. Improved community understanding of outdoor malaria transmission is critical: efforts to reduce or eliminate malaria transmission will not be successful if the control of outdoor transmission is not emphasized.

Original languageEnglish
Article number274
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalMalaria Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Community knowledge
  • Malaria prevention
  • Outdoor malaria transmission
  • Rural Tanzania

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