As control efforts progress towards elimination, malaria is likely to become more spatially concentrated in few local areas. The purpose of this study was to quantify and characterise spatial heterogeneity in malaria transmission-intensity across highly endemic Indonesian Papua.
We analysed individual-level malaria surveillance data for nearly half a million cases (2019–2020) reported in the Papua and West Papua provinces and adapted the Gini index approach to quantify spatial heterogeneity at the district and health-unit levels. In this context, high Gini index implies disproportionately distributed malaria cases across the region. We showed malaria incidence trends and the spatial and temporal distribution of sociodemographic characteristics and aetiological parasites among cases.
While Papua province accounted for the majority of malaria cases reported in the region and had seen a rise in transmission since 2015, West Papua province had maintained a comparatively low incidence. We observed that Gini index estimates were high, particularly when the lower spatial scale of health units was evaluated. The Gini index appears to be inversely associated to annual parasite-incidence, as well as the proportions of vivax malaria, male sex, and adults.
This study suggests that areas with varying levels of transmission-intensities exhibited distinct characteristics. Malaria was distributed in a markedly disproportionate manner throughout the region, emphasising the need for spatially targeted interventions. Periodic quantification and characterisation of risk heterogeneity at various spatial levels using routine malaria surveillance data may aid in tracking progress towards elimination and guiding evidence-informed prioritisation of resource allocation.
The study was funded by the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security through the Strengthening Preparedness in the Asia-Pacific Region through Knowledge (SPARK) project.
- Spatial heterogeneity
- Indonesian Papua
- Gini index