Background: In 2015, a China-UK-Tanzania tripartite pilot project was implemented in south-eastern Tanzania to explore a new model for reducing malaria burden and possibly scaling-out the approach into other malaria endemic countries. The 1,7-malaria Reactive Community-based Testing and Response (1,7-RCTR) which is a locally-tailored approach for reporting febrile malaria cases in endemic villages was developed to stop transmission and plasmodium life-cycle. The (1,7-RCTR) utilizes existing health facility data and locally trained community health workers to conduct community-level testing and treatment.
Methods: The pilot project was implemented from September 2015 to June 2018. Matched malaria incidence pairs of control and intervention wards were chosen. The latter arm was selected for the 1,7-mRCTR approach leaving control wards relying on existed programs. The 1,7-mRCTR activities included community testing and treatment of malaria infection. Malaria case-to-suspect ratios at health facilities (HF) were aggregated by villages, weekly to identify the village with the highest ratio. Community-based mobile test stations (cMTS) were used for conducting mass testing and treatment. Random household surveys were done in the control and intervention wards before (baseline) and after (endline) the program. The primary outcome was the baseline and endline difference of malaria prevalence in the control and intervention wards measured by the interaction term of ‘time’ (post vs. pre) and group in a logistic model. We also studied the malaria incidence reported at the health facilities during the intervention.
Results: Overall 85 rounds of 1,7-mRCT conducted in the intervention wards significantly reduced the odds of malaria infection by 66% (adjusted OR 0.34, 95%CI 0.26,0.44, p<0001) beyond the effect of the standard programs. Malaria prevalence in the intervention wards declined by 81% (from 26% (95% CI, 23.7, 7.8), at baseline to 4.9% (95% CI, 4.0,5.9) at endline). Villages receiving the 1,7-mRCT had a case ratio decreased by over 15.7% (95%CI, -33, 6) compared to baseline.
Conclusion: The 1,7-mRCTR approach reduced significantly the malaria burden in the areas of moderate and high transmission in southern Tanzania. This locally-tailored approach could accelerate malaria control and elimination efforts. The results provide the impetus for further evaluation of the effectiveness and scaling up of this type of approach in other high malaria burden countries in Africa, including Tanzania.