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Saturday, September 19, 2020

Durham University researchers complete pioneering malaria study in The Gambia

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The study, funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), took place in 96 villages in The Gambia, West Africa and 8,000 children were checked for malaria.

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Scientists looked to see if children sleeping in homes that had the walls sprayed with insecticide – and slept under an insecticide treated bed net – contracted malaria less often than those who just used a bed net.

Both methods are often used to prevent humans being infected with the potentially-fatal tropical disease, which is spread by mosquitos.

Professor Steve Lindsay, from Durham University’s School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, said: “There has been a gradual decline in malaria in The Gambia, linked to wider distribution of long-lasting insecticide treated bed nets.

“Our research looked at whether or not a combination of bed nets and spraying homes with insecticide could reduce further cases of malaria, but we found no evidence that this was a more effective method of combatting mosquitos than using treated bed nets on their own.

“Our advice is that high bed net coverage is sufficient to protect people against malaria in areas of low or moderate transmission.

Walls are sprayed with insecticide as part of Durham University’s research into malaria prevention 

“However, where net coverage is low, the cost-effectiveness of additional control using indoor residual sprays such as DDT should be considered.”

The study was carried out in collaboration with the MRC Unit in The Gambia, the National Malaria Control Programme, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Researchers added that it was important that more studies were carried out in areas with differing transmission rates of malaria to further assess the effectiveness in these areas of combining insecticide sprays with treated bed nets.

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